Restaurants, Small Businesses Adjusting to Big Changes

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Gemma Herd carefully cleaned her tools Tuesday afternoon between a short list of clients at Skull and Combs.

“I really only had a client or two booked for the day,” said Herd.   

She may be disinfecting in the shop, but it’s the coronavirus moving quickly across the world that forced owner Jason Bunce to close Tuesday evening.

"The salon, we do probably about a thousand people a month and that just opens us to all types of exposure from anything,” said Bunce

He said it’s a difficult decision to close his businesses in New Haven, and a brand-new shop in Norwalk.

“Losing the New Haven salon temporarily doesn’t hurt as much as losing the new business, which has all that new fresh debt and a whole new staff,” said Bunce

He said it’s on his list to check with the Small Business Administration to see what financial support may be available. It’s one of so many questions.

“Do the bills stop, does the mortgage get put on hold?” he asked.

Another added stress is seeing his employees not able to earn money at a time when there are so few answers to those questions.

“It’s certainly a little bit unnerving that I don’t know where my income is going to be coming from,” said Herd.  “I don’t think I’m going to be in a cardboard box on the street but it’s definitely going to be a struggle.”

For restaurants like Christopher Martins, they’re still open for takeout, but the bar closed at 8 p.m. Monday, cutting off bartender Catherine McAuliffe.

“I mean this bar has been around longer than I have so everyone that came out was ‘Hey this isn’t much but this is what I can do to help you,’” said McAuliffe.

She said her boss, coworkers and friends have all been supportive. She’s decided to file for unemployment for financial help. Gemma said she’s not sure what she’ll do.

“I’m just at this point taking it day by day and hoping that this doesn’t last forever and it’s only a couple of weeks, and we can really get back on our feet.”

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