TAMPA, Fla. — The surge in COVID-19 cases is starting to impact Tampa Bay area businesses who have made the decision to temporarily close their doors after employees tested positive for COVID-19.
At Skipper’s Smokehouse in North Tampa, a closed sign is once again taped to the door. Cricket Larson made the tough decision to close the business after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19 this week.
“The decision about the staff is hard you know after the year we had, and we feel like we were being extra cautious,” she explained.
The music venue just reopened after being closed 10 months during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re still going to err on that side of social responsibility and being extra cautious,” she elaborated.
Skipper’s Smokehouse will be closed throughout the weekend, reopening on August 12, which will allow the rest of Larson’s staff time to get tested and for the restaurant to be deep cleaned. In the meantime, Larson is committed to paying all of her employees. She was also able to reschedule any live music.
“I take my responsibility for the staff I have seriously and I’m going to continue to do what’s in their best interest,” she added.
At Tukro Coffee in Dunedin, the owner was faced with a similar situation. Owner Dominick Briganti posted on Facebook that half of his staff tested positive for COVID-19.
After closing for two days, the remaining baristas who tested negative were able to open the coffee shop with limited hours Thursday and Friday. The shop is also switching over to one-time-use paper cups and boxes.
It’s another setback after a challenging year and a half for both businesses. “I think the best word that describes 2020 for our establishment was agonizing,” Larson added.
Yet, both business leaders told ABC Action News they’re grateful for customers who are vowing to support them when they fully reopen.
“We’re going to press onward. We have no intention of this being the end of it. This is not a period. This is a semicolon in our story,” Larson elaborated.