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'We will weather the storm': Owners react to Macon mayor's order to close some businesses

The order closes down certain business for the next two weeks.

MACON, Ga. — At 5:15 p.m. Monday, Mayor Robert Reichert's order took effect, closing down some Macon-Bibb County businesses for the next two weeks. Restaurants can serve only by delivery, pick-up, or drive-thru. 

Reichert signed an order on Monday saying the county is under a state of emergency.

RELATED: Macon-Bibb mayor declares state of emergency

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"We asked for voluntary cooperation, not just with washing your hands and personal hygiene, but with social distancing and staying home and staying away and out of group gatherings, but a simple request which was the way to start in my opinion did not carry the weight that and order does," Mayor Robert Reichert said in a press conference on Monday. "So we're moving to the next step, and we hope and pray that this emergency order will. Its intended effect to slow the spread of the virus and save lives."

Stylists at EC Hair were taking their last few clients Monday afternoon.

"All establishments offering body care services which require physical contact, between the provider and client, including, without limitations, barbers, hair design, cosmetology,." Reichert said. 

"I wish he would have gone ahead and done this so we were better prepared," said Jimmy Wesley Barnett, a stylist at EC Hair Salon. 

Barnett and others worked to reschedule appointments and grab whatever equipment they would need for the next two weeks. 

Barnett says it's going to take a toll on business. However, as the saying goes, "What doesn't kill us makes us stronger," Barnett said. 

"Hairdressers are a resourceful and creative bunch, so we will do what needs to be done. There's a lot of camaraderie in our community," Barnett said. 

Other businesses affected are restaurants. According to the order, dine-in restaurants must close along with bars and taverns. Restaurants can offer take out, delivery, drive-thru, or curbside service. Places that serve beer or wine can sell sealed bottles to go.

Restaurants across the count are posting signs saying they have moved to pick up or delivery only. 

At Your Pie in Macon, the dine-in section was open on Sunday but with reduced seating, but there wasn't much of a turnout.

"When all the church services, obviously, were not going on, the business was literally probably 15 percent what it normally is," said Chris Hefner, owner of Your Pie in Macon. 

On Monday, Hefner decided to closed the dining area ahead of Reichert's order. 

"We will weather the storm, if you will, but by the same token, take all the precautions," Hefner said. 

But the businesses not affected by the mayor's order is retail. 

"We're waiting for the message. If he says close, we'll close," Smith said prior to Reichert issuing a State of Emergency. 

Reichert said retail, commercial, and industrial businesses can stay open as long as they practice social distancing.

For now, Judy Smith says Rumor, a boutique on Forsyth Road, will stay open. However, COVID-19 has still hurt business. 

"Very slow -- almost nonexistent -- maybe 5 sales a day, if that," Smith said. 

Now, more than ever, business owners are asking people to support local businesses that are trying to keep their doors open.

"If you're comfortable doing it, call in and pick up an order or have it delivered. That's the biggest thing that people can do," Hefner said. 

With the community's support, these business owners say they will persevere through.

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FACTS NOT FEAR | At 13WMAZ, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the coronavirus. To see our full coverage, visit our site section here: www.13wmaz.com/Coronavirus.