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Local business owners concerned about increasing COVID cases

{ }Spruce on Main is a home décor and accessory shop in Amherst that opened in March of this year.{p}{/p}
Spruce on Main is a home décor and accessory shop in Amherst that opened in March of this year.

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The governor and other political leaders say there won't be covid shutdowns and school districts have said they want to keep kids in school, in person. However, with record new cases statewide shutdowns may be sporadic and inevitable.

Small business owners are watching the spread of Omicron with significant worry, many of them can't stay open if even a small number of staff are forced into quarantine or isolation.

Krista Sobon is the owner of Spruce on Main which is a home décor and accessory shop in Amherst that opened in March of this year.

“We’ve had to roll with the punches as masks and vaccinations have come and gone so it’s been a big learning curve,” said Sobon.

Opening a business in the middle of the pandemic hasn’t been easy especially as covid cases are rising rapidly.

“I think the biggest fear is to be shut down,” said Sobon. “I really don’t know what we would do at that point we would have to shift to plan B really quickly.”

Sobon says plan B would be switching to fully online with curbside pickup.

“It’s an experience when people come here because they can see things and touch things and to change that is tricky it doesn’t always read as well online,” said Sobon.

Fox Buffalo’s Olivia Dance, says, “There aren’t government shutdowns right now on businesses but with this spike and the Omicron variant, is it a concern that you would potentially have to shut down just due to exposures or employees testing positive?”

Sobon, replied, “For sure, that definitely is a concern of mine. My staff is very open we wear masks, we follow the mandate closely, we are all vaccinated, and we take it seriously.”

Sobon says Spruce on Main is luckily fully staffed but because they are a small team anyone being out from covid is a concern. Other local businesses have already felt the impact of the surge in cases.

AJ Baynes, President and CEO of Amherst Chamber of Commerce, says, “I am aware of businesses altering hours given the fact they are short-staffed, and they were even shorter staffed over the last two weeks when employees tested positive.”

The Amherst Chamber of Commerce is made up of over 1,000 businesses across Western New York.

Baynes says businesses are worried about going into Erie County's phase two or three which would be vaccine mandates and capacity restrictions. Currently, the county is only in phase one which is a mask mandate.

“A lot of businesses are working with their staff to make sure they are protected, that they are healthy and that no one has to call off especially for the next couple of weeks when they are in this busy cycle,” said Baynes.

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He also says as of now he is unaware of any businesses that have had to shut down due to employees catching covid but some have had to adjust their hours.