(UPDATE: Main Street Cafe and Catering has now reopened.)
By MARINA WATERS
As COVID-19 numbers climb in the Tri-Cities, the virus has also affected downtown’s events and businesses.
This week, the Jonesborough Area Merchants and Service Association opted to cancel its final two Downtown at Dusk ticket sales due to COVID-19 concerns. JAMSA Secretary Dona Lewis said the board’s decision to cancel came after concerns from local business owners regarding event goers removing their masks in order to partake in the beverages offered at participating shops.
“At least one merchant contacted us about his fear,” Lewis told the Herald & Tribune. “He’s uncomfortable with them wearing no masks in the shops when they come in and have something to drink. I am totally in favor (of canceling ticket sales). I am getting emails from merchants saying, ‘This is the reason we haven’t done it or gone.’ I think it was the right decision. It only takes one person (to spread the virus).”
Tickets will not be sold for the event that typically takes place on Friday evenings, but downtown shops and businesses will still offer extended business hours, just without the beverages.
“(The drinks are) probably what’s drawing people in,” Lewis said, “but it’s just not safe right now.”
Lewis said she hopes the community sees the decision to cancel the event as an act to protect downtown patrons and business owners.
“I think they’ll realize that JAMSA is being careful and conscious of everybody’s health and well-being right now,” Lewis said. “I think they will appreciate it.”
Downtown at Dusk isn’t the only part of downtown that has been impacted by the virus.
Main Street Cafe and Catering decided to temporarily close its doors this week after an employee came in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
Owner and operator Zac Jenkins said the employee, along with the rest of the Main Street Cafe staff, has been tested and is currently awaiting results.
“Everybody’s gone and gotten the test as a precaution and no one can come back until they get a negative result,” Jenkins said. “It’s an abundance of caution. You just don’t always know and then the symptoms can pop up days later. That’s why we’re doing this.”
Jenkins said, should the employee tests come back negative, he plans to reopen on Friday after making sure to adequately clean the restaurant.
“I really want to emphasize we were going the extra mile here,” Jenkins said. “We always wear masks inside. Our track record is pretty solid on the cautionary front.”
Main Street isn’t the only business that has had to close due to COVID-19 concerns. In the past month, businesses like the Black Olive and Boone Street Market both temporarily closed its doors following positive test results. But for business owners like Jenkins, he’s hoping locals take this chance to wear a mask in order to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“Wear your mask,” Jenkins said. “That’s the biggest thing you can do. We’ve got to get through this winter. Winters in Jonesborough are notoriously not great. We’ve got to try to keep this virus down so we can continue to operate the economy. Protect yourselves so we can help everybody win.”