By Nathan Ham
The doors at Boone Mall are locked and around 10 businesses remained open on King Street in Downtown Boone on Wednesday as many small business owners have closed their doors during this COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
John Mena, the owner of Haircut 101, was one of those businesses that have been forced to close on an executive order from North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper. All salons, barbershops, massage therapists and sweepstakes parlors have to be closed by 5 p.m. this afternoon. This is in addition to previous orders that forced all restaurants and bars to close their indoor dining and drinking spaces.
“It was a given, it was going to happen. Is it prudent at this time? Yes, I believe it is prudent at this time,” Mena says. “Hopefully it will enable us to get ahold on this.”
Parking lots and roads are strangely empty of vehicles with only a few here and there from businesses that remain open and essential workers for the town, council, medical profession, and others. Even for longtime business owners, it feels like a troubling time.
“It’s very scary. I’ve been in business for over 30 years now and the longest time we’ve ever had to be down was two to three days usually because of a big snowstorm. This is unparalleled for being closed at least a month,” said Mena. “I have 10 employees who relied on this salon to make money and to pay their bills.”
Mena added that the government should be able to find a way to give money to the people that really need it the most.
“We need to look at the American worker and make them sustainable through this—and make them whole again. Maybe we need to put off all bills for 90 days,” he said.
Much like past economic downfalls and hard times in the United States, this too shall pass and the country will undoubtedly bounce back. Until then, citizens will continue to heed warnings from the CDC and stay isolated in hopes of getting rid of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
“It’s scary, very scary. We will persevere. If you think about it, every generation from the beginning of our fledgling democracy has had its trials and tribulations from the American Revolution, Civil War, World War I, the Great Depression, World War II – everybody’s got to hunker down and do the right thing,” said Mena. “I’m looking forward to getting back open and hopefully when we do get back to work people will have money to spend on hair care and at all the other local businesses here in the High Country.”