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With COVID-19 cases increasing, concerns of area businesses closing grows

Published: Jun. 30, 2020 at 5:28 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Arizona is the latest state to close down bars, clubs, and gyms, becoming the third state along with Florida and Texas to do so. Wisconsin has been open for just over a month, but the concern that businesses may be pushed into closing again is real.

Dale Elliott owns Dale’s Weston Lanes and is a member of the Wisconsin Tavern League. Elliott says 20 percent of Tavern League members may not open back up through the pandemic. Closures like the ones we saw from March to May were devastating, but if an increase in cases pushes businesses to close, he says that number will grow.

“What can they expect businesses to do,” Elliott said.

Dale’s Weston Lanes has been in business since 1989. When the business survived a fire that closed down the bowling portion of the business, Elliott figured they could make it through anything.

“I thought we were diverse enough to weather anything that came at us,” Elliott said.

Then shutdowns began. These shutdowns forced Elliott’s 65 employees out of work and into unemployment. But if Elliott hadn’t done that, the results would have been devastating.

“If I would’ve had to keep paying payroll, I would have never made it,” Elliott explained.

Cases in the United States are going up, and Wisconsin is no different.

“Our average number of cases is increasing,” interim administrator for the Wisconsin DHS Division of Public Health Stephanie Smiley said.

2 weeks ago, the average amount of new cases was 266 a day. Now it’s

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) says that they are planning for an increase of cases in the next couple of days, likely due to a lack of social distancing.

“Those participating in activities where perhaps social distancing is not or physical distancing is not the easiest to do,” Smiley added.

But Elliott says his place has the space to keep people safe. But that doesn’t mean people will feel comfortable going bowling. In fact, Elliot says business is already slower. He says 60 percent of customers haven’t shown up. In March through June, Elliot estimates $750.000 has been lost in just the last few months.

“We’re really scrutinizing how we’re spending and dishing out anything,” Elliott said.

Any more loss could make things more difficult. But even if Dale’s Weston Lanes makes it through this year, the impact will be felt for years to come.

“To do the devastation that it did to our economy was, as a business person really a hard thing to take.”

The Marathon County DHS says that with safer at home order being struck down by the Wisconsin Supreme Court in May, an order forcing business to shut down can’t happen again.

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