COOS COUNTY— With state mandates keeping children home from school and people from gathering in larger groups, some local businesses have begun to feel the effects from COVID-19, and more likely will soon.
“This is going to hurt all of our businesses,” said Janice Langlinais of the Coos Bay-North Bend Visitor and Convention Bureau. “What we’re hoping our residents will do is be visitors in their own backyards. If they can eat at our restaurants and go to our museums, our hope is that those local residents will keep our businesses going through this difficult time.”
Gino and the Lone Gunmen perform Saturday night at Front Street Provisioners in Coos Bay.
Langlinais suggested people keep money in the community by eating at local restaurants, many of which are accommodating patrons during this difficult time by providing to-go, curbside pickup, or delivery options.
“Over 90 percent of our businesses are small locally owned ... so it’s really important that we as a community show our support of these businesses,” Langlinais said.
Business management and marketing professor at Southwestern Oregon Community College Jessica Engelke also spoke to the need of the community to keep purchases local.
“This could be a tough hit on our small community," Engleke said. "We can’t stop living and we can’t stop moving forward with our lives. So making sure that we’re making wise purchases and making sure that our money stays local is going to be important."
Engleke is hopeful about the upcoming tourism season, because of how small and isolated the South Coast is.
“People aren’t going to Los Angles and other crowded areas like Disneyland, so going to the South Coast and spending time at the beach probably sounds less threatening. It wouldn’t surprise me if we still have quite a few visitors for spring break,” Engleke said.
The cancellation of the Clambake Music Festival is the first significant economic struggle that some local businesses will likely feel because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
“We were sold out for the festival for quite some time, and right now we’re have about 50 percent of our rooms available,” The Mill Hotel-Casino spokesperson Ray Doering said. “It’s obviously pretty disappointing for us. It’s a good weekend for us.”
The casino has increased cleanliness standards in its gaming area and closed down its buffet as an attempt to stop potential spread of the disease.
A sign designates a take out order parking spot outside of Kozy Kitchen in North Bend on Saturday as local businesses look for ways to survive…
“We’re doing everything we can to boost the amount of cleaning we do here, whether it’s on the machines, or public surfaces, it’s a very in-depth approach to keeping the place as clean and safe as we can,” Doering said.
The State of Oregon Employment Department has put together a page on its website dedicated to information about how the virus may affect businesses.
“If for the coronavirus or any other reason an employer starts seeing less business, but they want to keep all their workers, they may have the potential to get connected to the employment department," said Gail Krumenauer, communication director at the Oregon Employment Department. "There’s a program for that called Work Share, and that program allows employers in certain circumstances to cut the hours of their employees, while offering a partial unemployment benefit to offset lost wages."
In addition, Krumenauer said the Oregon Employment Department is actively engaged with the partner agencies and the U.S. Department of Labor to help craft legislation regarding COVID-19 and its potential effect on the workforce, should it become necessary.
The Oregon Employment Department is confident that if the virus were to put a large number of Oregonians out of work, it would likely be able to handle it.
“We haven’t seen a situation like this before, and we don’t really know now what might happen. We did 11 years ago go through the great recession, which was arguably severe compared to most recessions. In that time we had a tremendous influx of people who claimed unemployment insurance benefits, and Oregon was one of the few states that was able to keep our unemployment trust fund solvent,” Krumenaur said.