WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Some restaurants in the Wilmington area are already feeling the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic and owners want the state to step in.
With some seeing a decline in business and new guidelines by the CDC and the Trump administration, restaurants like Rx in Wilmington are voluntary closing their doors.
“If they’re saying no gatherings more than 10 people, we have 15 people on staff before we even open the doors,” said Rx Restaurant and Bar owner James Doss.
While closing may be in the public’s best interest, it leaves employees without income. That’s why Doss created a petition asking Governor Roy Cooper to issue mandatory closures for all restaurants in the state.
“The economy is coming to a halt, and so the income for all the small businesses that pay all these people is going to stop,” Doss said. “This is the government’s job, it’s their job to step in.”
Doss says if Gov. Cooper ordered all restaurants to close, workers would be able to sign up for unemployment benefits.
“You pay unemployment tax every payroll and that’s what it’s there for is events like this,” Doss said. “In the restaurant industry and a lot of these industries in Southeastern North Carolina and the whole country are paycheck by paycheck people and they just need to know, they need that assurance that they’re going to get taken care of.”
More than two dozen Wilmington-area restaurant owners have signed the petition.
One of those people is Dean Neff of Love, Lydia Bakery.
“We’re restaurants that are small and we don’t really have money set aside to pay staff without having money coming in,” Neff said.
Wilmington isn’t alone. Neff says similar petitions have been created in Los Angeles, Chicago, and other parts of the country.
“Our staff are our family, and we want to make sure that we’re taking care of them and thinking about them first and foremost,” Neff said.
In the meantime, many of these restaurants are selling gift cards online in an effort to maintain some level of income for employees.