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After COVID-19 Shutdown, Kentucky Businesses Reopening Under a New Normal

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After grinding to a halt due to COVID-19, Kentucky is taking a major step toward restarting its economy.

Manufacturing, construction, car dealerships, and pet grooming are among the business sectors that opened  their doors to customers on Monday for the first time in nearly two months.  David Jaggers, general manager of Leachman Buick, GMC, Cadillac of Bowling Green, says the last seven weeks have been unprecedented.

"I've been in the business 44 years and its the first time I've experienced not being able to allow people in our showroom or offices," Jaggers said.

Jaggers’ dealership has still been able sell vehicles online and make deliveries, but sales are down about 40 percent compared to what the dealership averages on a month to month basis.  But he’s been through worse times such as the Great Recession of 2008, and surprisingly, the dealership is under-stocked for new vehicles.  The General Motors strike last fall and the current shut down at the Corvette Assembly Plant have both interrupted inventory flow. 

As the dealership welcomes customers back to the showroom, making the sell may look a little different with sales people wearing face masks and wiping down cars and keys with disinfectant. 

Governor Andy Beshear in an effort to ordered non-essential businesses to cease operations in mid-March in an effort to curtail spreading the coronavirus.  Lori Young is the owner of “A Cut Above” pet salon in Bowling Green.  She told WKU Public Radio the shutdown has been devastating for her bottom line.

“I believe the pet industry is recession proof and I believe this would not have affected us at all had the governor not called for the closure," said Young.

Young’s five employees have been without pay during the shutdown, but she recently received funding through the Payroll Protection Act to pay them retroactively.  The program approved by Congress gives funding to small businesses to keep their workers employed. 

Young says the pet salon is taking extra precautions by closing its doors to the public and only taking payments over the phone. She is also operating a curbside service when pet owners are dropping off or picking up their animals, and her staff is doing a lot more disinfecting of tables and tubs between each grooming. 

It’s catch up time as the staff works longer days to accommodate a backlog.  The pet salon had to cancel 708 appointments over the past seven weeks.

Manufacturing, construction, horse racing tracks, and photography are some of the other business sectors now permitted to reopen under appropriate health and safety measures.

Lisa is a Scottsville native and WKU alum. She has worked in radio as a news reporter and anchor for 18 years. Prior to joining WKU Public Radio, she most recently worked at WHAS in Louisville and WLAC in Nashville. She has received numerous awards from the Associated Press, including Best Reporter in Kentucky. Many of her stories have been heard on NPR.
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