NC Business Support Social Distancing, Masks

NORTH CAROLINA — A majority of surveyed businesses in North Carolina say statewide restrictions meant to slow the spread of coronavirus have created financial hardship, but agree that safety protocols, such as masks and social distancing, are vital in maintaining customers, according to an informal survey Patch conducted last week.

About 82 percent of the survey’s 28 respondents said the impact of statewide restrictions on their business was either challenging or devastating, compared with about 14 percent of respondents who said restrictions had little impact.

“The devastation to small business is irreparable for a long time to come,” said one North Carolina business owner who took the Patch survey.

Almost 4 percent of the businesses polled said the period of statewide restrictions actually brought increased demand or revenue for their services.

The survey, which appeared in questionnaire form on Patch, is meant not to be a scientific poll but only to give a broad idea of sentiment among the business community in North Carolina.

“Our customers have continued to stay loyal and we have been implementing new procedures to ensure sanitation and comfort for our guests,” said one business owner who took the survey. “We’re lucky enough to have local support and have been giving back to the community and small businesses around us in order to promote the support of like-minded businesses.”

Of the businesses negatively affected, nearly 79 percent said it was due to loss of revenue, and about 43 percent said it forced their company to implement a new business model. More than 21 percent of those who took the poll said their business was forced to layoff employees and about 14 percent said employees began to work from home.

Three out of every four respondents said they had sought some sort of financial assistance to offset their business losses.

And while statewide stay-at-home orders have brought financial and operational challenges to businesses in the state, the majority of those taking the survey say they are not at risk for shutting down. Almost 11 percent of those responding, however, said they were at-risk for closing their doors for good and 25 percent said the scenario remained a possibility.

When asked about Gov. Roy Cooper’s phased approach to reopen the state, businesses were divided. Nearly 47 percent of respondents said they were either satisfied or very satisfied with the public health strategy, compared to about 29 percent who said they were either unsatisfied or very unsatisfied. About a quarter of those survey were neutral on the issue.

In contrast, respondents were more pleased than not with the state government’s response to the crisis, with about 43 percent expressing positive views about Gov. Roy Cooper’s performance during the pandemic, compared to about 32 percent who were not. About 25 percent said they were neutral.

“Let’s get back to work!!,” said one respondent. “Tracking the virus day-by-day yet not mental and physical health of being confined at home with constant negative news stories, lost jobs or being unable to work, worship and connect in person with others. If you are sick or at high risk stay home otherwise let’s get back to it!”

When it came to President Trump’s performance, however, respondents were split nearly down the middle: 39 percent were largely happy with leadership at the federal level during COVID-19, while 39 percent not so much. About 21 percent said they were neither satisfied nor unsatisfied with Trump’s performance.

“It’s a shame that the necessary precautions have become a political issue rather than a medical response issue,” said one respondent. “If the Federal Government had been better prepared and responded earlier and stronger, we could be over the [worst] of things already and on to higher phases of recovery. They way it has worked and in working, I believe the effects are going to go on far longer than everyone thinks.”

When it comes to implementing safety protocols as the state begins to ease restrictions, the businesses surveyed were largely supportive. Nearly 68 percent said that implementing protocols such as masks and social distancing in their workspace was an important factor in attracting and maintaining customers.

When it comes to the protocols businesses are deploying, about 82 percent are using sanitizer, 75 percent are socially distancing, about 64 percent are limiting capacity of customers, nearly 68 percent are implementing special cleaning regimes, and about 57 percent are wearing face coverings.

Results for each of the survey’s nine questions appear below:

This article originally appeared on the Across North Carolina Patch

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