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In addition to general health concerns these days, many Springfield-area residents are also worried about local businesses, particularly those that rely on in-person transactions. 

They ponder the question: “How can I stay safe and still support local business?”

As restrictions grow tighter in light of coronavirus, many businesses are changing the way they get their products to customers through curbside pickup and to-go orders.

On Tuesday, city and county officials announced restrictions on gatherings that closed most bars and restaurants to in-person dining. 

Several entities are compiling a list of area businesses still open with modified services amidst new restrictions limiting the number of people allowed to gather in the wake of coronavirus. Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau, The News-Leader, Downtown Springfield Association, I Heart Radio, KOLR, KY3, Ozarks Independent and others are updating a list about closed businesses and those offering modified services, like delivery, curbside pickup, and special deals in the Springfield area. 

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That updated list is easy to find on the visitors bureau’s website, springfieldmo.org. 

Neighbor’s Mill Owners Lauren Brown and her husband, Clif, are among the businesses trying to find routine in this new way of life.

Starting this past Tuesday, Brown said Neighbor’s Mill switched to only curbside pickup and to-go orders. That night, the city of Springfield passed a mandate to limit gatherings of 10 people or less.

So far, they’re doing OK, Brown said.

“It’s been an adventure,” Brown said. “It’s been fun, but it’s been a little bit nuts.”

There’s been a lot of phone calls — enough so that Brown had to switch from the cordless phone to a landline while speaking with the News-Leader because the battery was dying — and taking people’s payment before running outside to their car with a food order.

Although they haven’t had to reduce their menu items yet, Brown said she expects to in coming weeks.

“If we have this one item that goes on a salad and that’s the only thing it gets used for, maybe we just won’t order that,” Brown said. “We have not gotten there yet, but that’s probably the next result of this and you’ll probably see that at a lot of restaurants.”

A “bizarre” result of the coronavirus came in the form of bread. Several Springfield grocery stores like Price Chopper and Mama Jean’s are ordering loaves of bread through Neighbor’s Mill at wholesale to keep up with demand.

“They’re not able to get the bread they normally get, like Sara Lee and Arnold and all those places that are normally getting it in from trucks, so they’ve turned local,” Brown said. “We’ve had to cut a lot of our labor hours and we’re really slow in the café, but then our bakers were having record-breaking numbers of loads of bread. That’s been really weird and a huge silver lining.”

While some businesses have changed their operations to account for new restrictions, others have closed temporarily. 

For those still open, takeout and delivery are options. For both those open and closed, purchasing gift cards to be used later is often possible — that goes for other retailers too, not just restaurants.

Of course, if you’re feeling sick, you shouldn’t be going out for pick up. In some cases, customers can pay online and have delivered items left at the door. 

And it’s not just restaurants and retailers. Many nonprofit organizations are struggling to make ends meet as fundraising events have been canceled. Donations to your favorite local organizations could be a great help in this time. 

There is much at stake right now for small businesses and organizations in the area, including people’s livelihoods.

“Every restaurant is in the same boat,” Brown said. “It’s heartbreaking. Everyone needs to work.”

At the start of this past week, Brown said she was reaching out to her employees, asking them how they were and what they needed.

“If they don’t feel like they need to work as much, let us know and we can give those hours to someone else,” Brown said she asked some of the workers.

Several high school- and college-age employees gave up their hours to help others, but everyone is feeling the effects.

“Everyone is getting their hours cut across the board, but we haven’t had to tell anyone yet that we don’t have any work for them and, knock on wood, hopefully we won’t get to that place,” Brown said. “Obviously, if this goes on longer, then we will and that will be a really awful, hard thing to have to do.”

Through it all, Brown said she and her staff have appreciated the support from the community of Springfield. Several have checked on their well-being while buying $100 gift cards to support Neighbor’s Mill and leaving generous tips for staff.

“We’ve just been really overwhelmed and encouraged by the support of people who care about small businesses and they want us to succeed and to make it through this,” Brown said. “That’s been really heartwarming for us.”

Emotionally speaking, Brown said she and her husband have been running on adrenaline while trying to keep her emotions at bay.

“It’s not a situation where you’re like, ‘Well, let’s talk about it for a week and get input from all of our staff and then decide.’ It was like, ‘Are we doing this tomorrow? Yes, we’re doing this tomorrow and we gotta let everyone know right now,'” Brown recounted.

“There were a lot of quick decisions and figuring things out on the fly. In those situations, you tend to shove the emotional aspect down and get through the day to get stuff figured out. But, when my husband and I go home at the end of the day there’s a lot of ‘I can’t believe this is reality.'” 

Brown said she will look at her husband with disbelief at the end of the day because of everything that is going on.

“This is just the most surreal thing in the world, and our staff is certainly feeling that too,” Brown said.

CDC safety recommendations in dealing with COVID-19

CDC provides a list of ways to protect yourself against coronavirus on its website.

Know How it Spreads

  • There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
  • The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.
  • The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
  • These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Take steps to protect yourself

  • Clean your hands often
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.

Take steps to protect others

  • Stay home if you’re sick
  • Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care. Learn what to do if you are sick.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
  • Throw used tissues in the trash.
  • Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Wear a facemask if you are sick
  • If you are sick: You should wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. If you are not able to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then you should do your best to cover your coughs and sneezes, and people who are caring for you should wear a facemask if they enter your room. Learn what to do if you are sick.
  • If you are NOT sick: You do not need to wear a facemask unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and they are not able to wear a facemask). Facemasks may be in short supply and they should be saved for caregivers.

Clean and disinfect

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
  • If surfaces are dirty, clean them: Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.

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