Whitman County businesses must once again adapt to COVID-19 restrictions put in place by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.
In response to a statewide rise in daily COVID-19 cases, restaurants and bars must close their indoor service, retail and grocery stores are limited to 25 percent occupancy and fitness facilities must close indoor operations. The restrictions are set to last until Dec. 14.
Pullman bar and restaurant The Coug announced Sunday following Inslee’s announcement that it will close until Jan. 20.
Owner Bob Cady said his business on College Hill typically closes during Washington State University’s winter break when much of the student population leaves Pullman.
However, he said Washington’s new COVID-19 restrictions and the likelihood that many students won’t return to Pullman after Thanksgiving break will probably extend that closure period.
Cady said it is difficult for The Coug, which does not have a drive-through, to remain open while only offering take-out. The overhead costs are too high and The Coug relies heavily on the College Hill population dining in.
Cady said The Coug may reopen sooner if it can, but he does not have faith in Washington’s ability to control the spread of COVID-19. He attributed this to “people’s unwillingness to do the absolute minimum,” such as wearing masks and social distancing.
Cady said he plans on bringing as many of the employees back after the closure as he can, but most of them will have to go on unemployment in the meantime.
Cady asked that people continue to support local businesses and rely less on big chains like McDonald’s for their dining needs.
He expressed optimism for Pullman and Moscow businesses, however. He said they tend to be more resilient than businesses in other markets because they are located in college towns and are used to surviving the fluctuation of college student populations. Still, he said, staying open now is “no less daunting at the end of the day.”
Pullman Crossfit is looking at options to hold workouts for its members outdoors in response to Washington’s new mandates.
Owner Scott Parrish said he could see the shutdown coming, but it happened quicker than anticipated.
The gym, which has about 190 members, had to close for three months earlier this year because of statewide COVID-19 restrictions.
Parrish said he is concerned about how his business, established in 2015, will continue serving its members if the restrictions last longer than Dec. 14.
Parrish said he is disappointed in the restrictions especially because Pullman Crossfit has taken all of the necessary precautions to keep its members healthy.
“Our cleaning etiquette is above and beyond what’s necessary,” he said.
Tawny Szumlas, owner of Rico’s Public House in Pullman, said she was not surprised by Inslee’s announcement and understands his attempt to limit maskless gatherings.
She said Rico’s ordered two firepits to place outside so people can dine outdoors, which is allowed under the new COVID-19 restrictions.
Rico’s will also continue to offer delivery and to-go services.
Bowling alleys and movie theaters must also close indoor services under Washington’s restrictions. Religious services are limited to 25 percent capacity, or no more than 200 people, whichever is fewer.
Anthony Kuipers can be reached at email@example.com.