By Al Dozier
The coronavirus has “pulled the rug from under our feet” as state mandates shut down local businesses, said Irmo Mayor Barry Walker.
Without revenue from normal operations, retailers have no money to pay bills and have to lay off workers. It’s happening in Irmo, Walker said.
It’s not just restaurants. Barbershops and salons and other retailers are unable to do the business they need to keep operating, Walker said.
Gov. Henry McMaster recently ordered all “non-essential” businesses in the state to discontinue operations in retail environments that could cause the virus to continue to spread.
Walker said a large new business scheduled to open in Irmo, The Stars and Stripes Family Entertainment Center, had to postpone a scheduled grand opening.
Walker said there are government-funded programs that can provide assistance to the local businesses. He said the town of Irmo is working on a relief package with a local bank to set up a loan program that could provide as much as $50,000 to local businesses.
He said the council may hold a special meeting to complete work on the program, but that may require a “virtual” meeting by computer to avoid close contacts.
Locally, there are few instances of gatherings in the community that could prompt spreading of the virus, Walker said. The only crowds he sees are in local grocery stores, especially Kroger.
According to a message Walker posted on the town’s web site, the council has not adopted curfews or shelter-in-place orders such as those imposed by the City of Columbia.
“At this time, Town Council has opted not to adopt one of these ordinances for the Town of Irmo but please keep in mind that this situation is fluid and could change at any time,” Walker said in the post. He urged citizens to use “common sense” when they leave their homes by practicing social distancing.