By Elisabell Velazquez

The pandemic has led to a decrease in employees, working hours and customers. Businesses from barber shops to baseball facilities to flower shops and restaurants have witnessed the impact of the coronavirus.

In order to combat the economic crisis caused by COVID-19, small businesses in Tampa are implementing changes to their normal working standards. In doing so, many are struggling to keep their businesses alive.

Since the implementation of a statewide stay-at-home order, the economic situation for many local businesses has taken a downward spiral due to the unemployment of nonessential workers.

Local businesses have had to reduce the number of employees to abide by the government guidelines of 10 people or less in an area, but this is not the only reason.

Owner of Cali Viejo Restaurant Edgar Vallejo said the fear of being infected has caused many employees to stay at home.

“We had to reduce the number of employees because, first of all, what we asked our employees was if they were scared of getting the virus. Those who said they were scared and preferred staying home, then they stayed home,” Vallejo said. “Only those who want to work are working. We have not fired workers, but the majority decided to stay home. We went from 24 employees to six employees.”

The coronavirus has led to changes in the industry of business as those who are able to deliver can keep some sort of revenue going, whereas others are left completely unemployed.

The alternatives to unemployment are not ample, but business owners said they are trying to find the opportunities to work.

Due to the shutdowns and unemployment, many businesses are considering the financial assistance the federal government is offering.

Vallejo said he is looking into the Paycheck Protection Program the government has implemented for businesses.

“We have considered the Paycheck Protection Program as our sales have been reduced by 80 percent and the government is giving loans that lend approximately 2.5 percent of your annual payroll, which may be used for certain things like maintaining employees working, for the mortgage or rent,” Vallejo said.

Different businesses are approaching the crisis in various ways, but one thing they all have in common is the hope that the pandemic will be over soon so they may resume work.

In the meantime, local businesses providing essential services are advised to take protective measures and those unemployed should continue practicing social distancing until the coronavirus pandemic is over.