Safety top of mind for businesses, community as Gov. Holcomb delays moving Indiana into Stage 5


INDIANAPOLIS — Business owners worried about the safety of their customers and community members concerned for the health of others are not discouraged by Governor Eric Holcomb’s decision to delay moving into Stage 5 of the state’s reopening plan. Holcomb announced today the state will remain in “Stage 4.5” for the next two weeks.

Besides, several downtown business owners tell FOX59 the money they lost during the last several months is one piece of their losses this year.

“We have never experienced anything like this before, so this has been really damaging,” Romeo Gerson, co-owner of Michael’s Soul Food on Ohio Street, said.

Gerson said the pandemic caused lay-offs of his staff, besides two chefs.

“It’s going to be a set back, just like how we already have,” Gerson explained. “But, from the news and everything we’re hearing is that the numbers are growing.”

Gerson’s main concern is the health of his staff and customers. Over on Monument Circle, the Columbia Club’s President wants to protect his members too.

“Stalling things for another week or two will make it difficult for people to come downtown,” John McGoff admitted.

COVID-19 is costing the Columbia Club a “pretty penny.”

“It’s been a big hit,” McGoff explained. “We’re losing nearly $400,000 a month, and we’ve lost 70 members in the last three months.”

May has been especially difficult for the Columbia Club in relation to past years.

“We probably lost $500,000 to $600,000 in the month of May,” McGoff said.

On top of COVID-19, many downtown businesses are also dealing with the destruction from the riots on May 29 and May 30.

“We’ve endured two world wars, a great depression, most recently COVID and, unfortunately on top of that, the riots that occurred downtown,” McGoff said.

Overall, Hoosiers we spoke with do not want finances to overshadow health.

“I was seeing some other states that are rushing to open,” Rev. Fatima Yakubu-Madus said. “The virus infection is climbing up, up, up. This is the only way we can keep Indiana safe. So, I really applaud him for taking the initiative to do that.”

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