Business owners feeling left in the dark after Allegheny County issues stay-at-home advisory

PITTSBURGH — A stay-at-home advisory in Allegheny County has restaurants and businesses feeling confused and left in the dark.

“It’s horrible. You have no idea what’s coming one day or the next,” said Denise Flaherty, owner of Crafty Jackalope.

First, it was takeout only, then just outdoor dining, followed by limited indoor dining. Now another hurdle — a stay-at-home advisory.

The owners said they don’t even know what this means for them.

“Unclear. We have no idea. It’s a stay-at-home advisory, so you’ve basically cut our legs out from under us,” Flaherty said.

Businesses are open for now, but they don’t know what restrictions could come tomorrow.

“We look at what just happened in Philly, and we’re almost resigned to it happening here with the daily counts going up,” Flaherty said.

At the Dallas Beauty Studio, times are just as uncertain. The business stated it’s just getting back to restarting operations and need guidance.

“It’s really difficult. People need to work these days, especially during the holidays,” said Karri Moehrind, a hairstylist at Dallas Beauty. “We don’t know one day from the next if we’re going to be open or closed, so it’s difficult.”

The people we talked to said they understand the health concerns as the virus surges a second time, but they’re angry that these businesses are being unfairly targeted.

They said they’re keeping safe and don’t want the government dictating how they live their lives.

They added that the government should let everybody keep their livelihood and keep the economy going.

A lot of restaurants have invested thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars, for outdoor seating, lights, heaters and tents. They said if they are instructed to shut down, they’re going to be hit even harder financially.

Doing Christmas shopping online just isn’t the same as going in person. That’s how local mother Candace Wilhelm feels, even after Allegheny County issued a stay-at-home advisory because of surging COVID-19 numbers.

“I’m one of those people who want to go in person. I want to see what I’m getting and feel what I’m buying,” Wilhelm said.

That’s encouraging for the owner of Gifted Hands, Shelley Hoare, who owns four brick-and-mortar shops.

“Today, we are actually up!” Hoare said. “I’ve been checking foot traffic and we do it hourly, so we see how many transactions per hour.

But just in case, she has been ramping up their online store for fear that a stay-at-home order will be issued.

“I think it’s critical. While the website has been doing well, it will never bring in what four brick-and-mortar locations will. But anything to offset the potential blow is great,” Hoare said.

It’s a feeling Joanna Amelio, owner of The Dailey Method Barre Studio, has been experiencing for months.

At this point, she’s torn, but is staying open for her customers with several health precautions in place.

“I’m a rule follower by nature, so when the advisory comes, you want to accommodate that and do what’s right. But there is rent, and there’s a business. And trying to make that all work right now is an interesting puzzle to be solved,” Amelio said.