‘This is almost like a spring hurricane’: COVID-19 restrictions dry up diving business
WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WWAY) — New Hanover County amended its state of emergency on Friday. The amendment closes all boat ramps and marinas, public and private.
But, some business owners rely on the water to keep their business afloat.
“This is almost like a spring hurricane for us, in terms of how it’s affecting us,” Captain Chris Slog said.
The coronavirus outbreak hit the coast of North Carolina like a hurricane.
Businesses closed, people without jobs, and now leaving a dent in the typically booming tourism industry.
“Even if we were still able to run our business, our customers couldn’t get hotel rooms and all the restaurants are closed,” Slog said. “There’s a lot more to do here than just diving. So I think it effects the whole tourism industry as a whole, we’re just a small part of that.”
Captain Chris Slog runs Wrightsville Beach Diving. He takes 6 passengers at a time for advanced underwater excursions.
Luckily, it’s still early in the season for his business.
“In this industry, we’ve dealt with a lot of things before. We’ve dealt with hurricanes, we’ve dealt with natural disasters,” he said. “And that can put you out of business for a month as well.”
But the COVID-19 restrictions are a little different.
“With a boat and when you have 6 people on it, it’s hard to social distance,” He said. “Even though you are going in the water, you are diving; which is the best place to social distance, the ride out and the ride back you are going to be closer than 6 feet to other people.”
Slog doesn’t run a brick and mortar business, causing a gray area.
But with the new order from New Hanover County, it made one thing clearer.
“We can’t run charters out of this marina. It changed things a lot, but like I said, everything is changing daily,” Slog said.
Even though he, and many in the diving community, are eager to wet their gills–
“We don’t want to contribute to the problem, so we definitely want to stay in line with the social distancing rules and everything like that,” Slog said. “Our hope is we all get out of this sooner rather than later. So if we have to make some sacrifices now, hopefully we can still have a great summer.”