Some businesses still searching for clarification – The Journal Record
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J.C. Mahan spent the day Wednesday caring for a handful of clients, one at a time, before he temporarily closes the doors to his Edmond salon, JC’s Funky Hair Ranch.
Hair salons were specifically mentioned in a list of nonessential businesses that must shut down from midnight on March 25 through April 15 under an order issued Tuesday by Gov. Kevin Stitt intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus in Oklahoma.
Owners of other businesses that were not specifically mentioned in Stitt’s order – not on the list of essential businesses that are to remain open nor on the list of nonessential businesses that must shut down – were left looking for clarification on Wednesday. For now, retailers offering curbside pickup or shipping are still operating unless and until the state directs otherwise.
“It’s fine as far as we can tell,” said Kiley Raper, CEO of the Oklahoma Retail Merchants Association, who has already received several calls from retailers throughout the metro trying to determine if they may continue operations by only offering curbside pickup and shipment options. Comments made by Oklahoma Secretary of Commerce and Workforce Development Sean Kouplen in a conference call held Wednesday morning seemed to indicate that retailers may continue, she said.
On Tuesday, Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt announced a proclamation shutting down Oklahoma City hair salons, tattoo parlors, massage parlors and other businesses where services cannot be provided while maintaining the 6-foot distance between people recommended by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Stitt’s order closed down the same kinds of business in any Oklahoma county with a confirmed case of COVID-19, which included Oklahoma County and 18 other counties as of Tuesday, when the order was issued.
That left little doubt that JC’s Funky Hair Ranch had to shut down by midnight on Wednesday. The salon at 22 E. Third St. in Edmond will have been operating at that location for 22 years as of April 1. The business also serves as a studio showcasing local artists’ work on a monthly rotation and often hosts live music performances.
“We were kind of ready for it,” said Mahan. “We were actually talking about it, my wife, Carly, and I, we were talking about needing to close anyway because there’s the threat, you know. You don’t know if you’re in contact with somebody that does have it, and then you give it to somebody else. It’s not what you want to do, but you’ve got to do what you need to do that’s best for everybody else.”
The wording of the order had some retailers worried. The measure states that “all businesses not identified as being within a critical infrastructure sector … shall close.”
The order specifically makes provision for restaurants and bars to stay open offering pickup, curbside and delivery service, but does not mention other kinds of businesses that may modify to continue operations.
“We’re taking the guidance under ‘transportation’ on the CISA.gov website,” said Raper. “It says ‘postal and shipping workers include private companies.’ For us, we’re interpreting that as retail store employees that are in charge of shipping online or curbside orders. That’s what we’re using because we haven’t really found anything else.”
Retailers are welcome to call the Oklahoma Retail Merchants Association with questions 24 hours a day, said Raper.
“These retailers are small businesses owners, and they need to know what’s going on,” said Raper. “We would like to be able to move from this on to helping them figure out what kind of loan programs and resources are available to them to recover some of this lost income.”
Full Circle Bookstore at 50 Penn Place in Oklahoma City has cut back hours and staff, but continues to offer curbside pickup – a program the store calls “Holler and Honk” in honor of a Billie Letts novel title. Customers can call the store to place an order for any book and pick it up at the store.
“We’ve had a really good response to everything, and we do appreciate people supporting their local stores,” said store manager Dana Meister. Customers can shop for books online and then place an order with Full Circle to keep their dollars in the community. “And we’ll see you on the other side.”