Free lunch

Although they normally work in the Royster Middle School cafeteria, Terri Houdashelt and Grace Wheeler are stationed in the parking lot at the American Legion serving lunches while students are out of school as a precaution against the novel coronavirus (COVID-10). Wheeler makes a delivery to a USD 413 customer. Chanute schools are currently on an extended spring break, with plans for online classes for the remainder of the year. Food service will continue as planned.

STU BUTCHER AND

ERIC SPRUILL

Tribune staff

An official order hit home Thursday for some locals who had been operating “business as usual” during the historic coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

By order of the Neosho County Board of Health and Public Health Officer, public access to the inside of bars/restaurants is prohibited, and barber/beauty shops and fitness center/gyms were shut down. The order went into effect at noon on Thursday.

Teresa Starr, Neosho County Public Health Officer, said when her office made phone calls to business owners about the order on Wednesday, “they were extremely gracious. We have amazing people in this town.”

She was asked if businesses will be checked out on abiding with the rules.

“We’ll try to enforce it all we can,” she told the Tribune.

 

Education essential

Dr. Kellen J. Adams, superintendent of USD 413 schools, responded that while not specifically listed in the order, education is considered to be an essential function.

He noted that the Food Service plan will continue as originally planned and employees may continue to report to the buildings to work as needed, under the guidance and directions that were provided earlier relative to creating a minimal/non-contact environment wherever possible.

 

Restaurants hurting

Public access to bars/restaurants is now prohibited. These businesses should use delivery, curbside or drive-through services and maintain social distancing as much as possible during those activities. 

Over the last three weeks, Mike Dalton, owner of Dalton’s Back Nine Bar and Grill in Chanute, said his revenue has dropped off sharply.

“I had that talk with my bank today. Currently we are sitting 70-73 percent below our normal revenue for the month. Times are tough,” he said. “But we are thankful for our call-in customers. We have our regulars.”

Until Thursday, Dalton’s had six tables available for customers, with each spaced 10 feet apart. Now it will offer curbside and delivery to its customers. Dalton said delivering food was a service they had never offered, but he is willing to do anything to keep the business going.

He also said that all truck drivers who come to the restaurant receive a free meal up to $15.

“When the government dropped time restrictions, these guys are putting in ungodly hours. I used to be a commercial driver and I know that is rough. But anything I can do to help keep them on the road, I am willing to do,” Dalton said.

He wanted to assure customers that they are following all health guidelines.

“The pretty cool thing is three weeks ago the state health department came in and we received a grade of 100 percent. That is extremely hard to do, I can promise you. We had zero violations of any kind. With the amount of closures or near closures they have been doing around here, that is pretty impressive,” he said. “We are going to keep offering great food until they tell us we have to close the doors.”

 

Barred from beauty

Amy Almond, owner of Shear Class, was surprised about the order to shut down her business.

She was informed by a customer who called and asked, “Can you give me a haircut since today’s your last day?”

She said she talked to six different stylists on Wednesday and not all of them got notified.

“I’m hoping and praying it will only last three weeks,” Almond said.

She noted two employees had taken this week off to stay home with their kids, leading to less appointment cancellations having to be made through today.

She said she will make retail products available for customer pick-up.

“Being self-employed, there’s no money,” she said.

Brian Adams, owner of Topper Barber Shop, said the shutdown was something he figured on, but was hoping wouldn’t happen.

“I was told I had be six feet away and there’s no way I could do that.”

Adams said he is hoping in a couple weeks it will straighten out. 

“It’s too bad it came to this.”

And in the meantime, customers will have to wait indefinitely for a haircut.

“There will be a lot of hairy people,” Adams said.

 

More regulations

The order reiterated public gatherings with more than 10 people are prohibited, and that first responders, public health, emergency management personnel, emergency dispatchers, court personnel and law enforcement are categorically exempt.

Essential businesses include grocery stores, convenience stores/gas stations, funeral homes, healthcare facilities and providers/veterinary clinics, utility providers, banks, pharmacies, media, and childcare facilities.

Non-essential businesses, open with various restrictions, are agriculture, parts stores, lumber yards, hardware stores, service organizations, bars/restaurants, manufacturing, automotive repair shops, and retail sales.

Along with barber/beauty shops, fitness centers/gyms and libraries were ordered completely shut down.

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