June 11, 2020 at 2:49 PM EDT – Updated June 11 at 2:53 PM
NEW YORK (NetTV/CNN) – Restaurants and bars across the nation are desperate to increase business after months of either total closure or limited operations.
Business owners are doing everything they can to stay afloat, which includes instituting new safeguards to protect customers from the coronavirus.
For one pub owner in New York, a solution for safeguarding customers’ health was installing social distancing screens.
The front door of Yer Man’s Irish Pub in the Glendale neighborhood has been locked for months, leaving its employees jobless.
With tears in his eyes, owner Jimmy O’Reilly said it’s been torture.
“We need to open the backbone of New York and the backbone of America,” O’Reilly said. “We’ve worked too hard to go down. I’m not going down. I got a loan to keep going, and I know I can come back.”
Yer Man’s is one of the millions of small businesses in New York City that temporarily closed due to COVID-19. According to the governor’s office, it’s projected that more than 100,000 will never open again.
Nearly three months after closing, O’Reilly still doesn’t know when he’ll reopen, and he’s losing money by the hour.
“I do $600,000 a year, maybe more,” he said. “The last three months, I probably took in $10,000.”
O’Reilly said he hasn’t been given any guidance from the government.
“We need to open,” he said. “We have to open, and our officials are not giving us any timeline of when, how, anything … nothing, they’ve given us nothing – guidelines, nothing.”
After considering the many ways people could come in contact with each other inside Yer Man’s, O’Reilly redesigned his bar in an effort to make customers feel safe.
O’Reilly said Yer Man’s is ready to open safely, with the help of plastic barriers, one of the many safety precautions O’Reilly and his staff have been working on to make social distancing possible inside the bar.
“Obviously they have to come in at their own risk, but I will do my utmost best to keep it sanitary, keep it clean and keep it that they’re safe,” he said.
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