Business owners still feeling effects of Gov. Lee’s stay-at-home order one year later

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – It was a year ago, April 2, 2020, when Governor Bill Lee signed an emergency declaration closing non-essential businesses and limiting travel.

The shut down caused by COVID-19 closed some business and put a strain on others.

Bars, restaurants, clothing stores and even barbershops are feeling the long lasting effects of being forced to shut down.

“I was probably thinking about how I was going to take care of my bills, how I was going to take care of my family without me having no income,” Charles Smith, Master Barber at Barbershop Creations in Nashville said.

For three months in 2020, Smith was sidelined from being able to care for his clients and family.

“It was something new and, you know, I didn’t know what was expected,” Smith said.

Although the shop is now open and following proper COVID-19 guidance, Smith admits he’s still trying to catch up.

“It took a little time to recoup that money and then when we did open back up after those 90 days, the customers were still not coming in because of the pandemic,” said Smith.

Nashville At Large Councilman Steve Glover has been a vocal critic against restrictive measures Tennessee and local governments have imposed.

“I’m going to fight for them and I’m going to try and help them get open full blast; we’re better off than we were. However, we lost far too many businesses,” Glover said.

Democratic Representative John Clemmons said small businesses need additional support as more shots are going into arms.

“It would be nice if the State of Tennessee and Governor Lee would step up and put some additional dollars on the table to assist our small businesses. We have got to rebuild our local economies,” the Nashville representative said.

Smith says it’s time Tennessee makes small businesses a priority.

“Take care of the small businesses. I think the small business people are really what runs everything. If you keep us open, you keep us alive , you keep us thriving, then others can thrive,” Smith said.

News 2 reached out to Governor Bill Lee’s office for comment and has not heard back.

Many COVID-19 restrictions under Governor Lee expire April 28 by executive order. However, those restrictions could be extended.

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