TARPON SPRINGS, Fla. — Take a walk around Tarpon Springs and you will see people everywhere. They’re eating, shopping, taking excursions, but most of all, they’re spending money.
“We’re relieved,” said Debbie Thompson. Thompson manages Kathrine’s Linen & Gifts.
“We can see a big difference from last year. There was nobody [here].”
She said it gives her and other business owners hope that the summer will be unusually busy with hundreds of tourists happy to finally be on vacation.
“That’s going to be very helpful.”
The city commission’s decision to extend the city’s COVID-19 business recovery program will also be helpful for the small businesses in the city.
“I think that’s great,” said Stefan Gorecki.
Gorecki works in the heart of Tarpon Spring, on the sponge docks. He has seen — first hand — the struggle businesses have experienced due to the pandemic.
“All of these business owners need the help,” he said. “Their businesses were basically shut down for months, so anything [the city] can do to help them is wonderful.”
The recovery program will now end in August, instead of this month. Restaurants can continue offering outside dining, and financial assistance is still available for businesses impacted by the pandemic.
Business owners believe the program, along with officials relaxing COVID-19 restrictions and mask mandates will is vital to help them rebound.
“I’m glad the city is helping,” Thompson said. “They have stepped up and helped a lot of local businesses.”
Commissioners have also decided to hold off on imposing the city’s new sign ordinance.