Coronavirus perception impacts New Braunfels businesses and organizations

Small business owners in New Braunfels are seeking support amidst coronavirus fears. (Courtesy Pexels)
Small business owners in New Braunfels are seeking support amidst coronavirus fears. (Courtesy Pexels)

Small business owners in New Braunfels are seeking support amidst coronavirus fears. (Courtesy Pexels)

The number of confirmed or presumptive positive cases of coronavirus has risen in metros around New Braunfels, but Comal County has yet to see a case of its own.

Despite that, shops, bars and restaurants in downtown New Braunfels are seeing varying consequences of fear of the virus. Owners and managers of several businesses within a short walk of Main Plaza said that the number of customers has noticeably declined.

“It’s really hurting small businesses like us,” said Chad Niland, owner of The Downtowner. “For the past two weeks, our sales have been down.”

Niland is adjusting his restaurant’s hours of operation by cutting weekday lunches, but he won’t be closing the doors altogether. He said residents should understand the risks of virus transmission and be cautious, but not fearful.

“Go get a drink. Go out to eat. Go buy that cute shirt you saw at a local shop,” Niland said. “Right now, we need you.”


While some residents have begun avoiding public interaction, others see less risk with proper precautions.

“I’m not that scared,” said Jenna Forester, a local who enjoyed the patio of Phoenix Saloon Friday evening with a friend. “I just want to be more cautious whenever I’m out, mostly because I’m worried about hurting other people.”

2tarts Bakery co-owner April Ryan hasn’t noticed a decline in foot traffic but is worried about the global supply chains that allow her to keep pastries stocked in the cafe’s display cases.

She also has concerns about the availability of goods she buys locally. Shoppers have swarmed grocery stores and are clearing entire aisles of toilet paper and cleaning supplies. This presents challenges for the 2tarts staff that are going through cleaning supplies faster than ever.

“We're cleaning everything—sanitizing everything really well at the cash register—using gloves and all that fun stuff,” said Ryan.

A nationwide concern is that many hourly employees will be hesitant to take time off, or pay for expensive testing, due to monetary concerns.

Niland said he’d consider stepping in financially on behalf of his staff and Ryan has been in contact with her landlord and insurance provider to see what her options are if she has to close her business due to the coronavirus.

“I'd love to give everyone a two week paid vacation,” Ryan said. “But if I'm not going to get any slack on my rent or my other bills, then that's going to be a really difficult thing to do as a small employer.”

There is hope that relief might come from the federal government. A bill is currently working its way through capitol hill and would provide two weeks paid vacation to employees with virus symptoms.

Meanwhile, church-goers will notice changes in services to avoid potential viral transmissions. A visiting reverend to Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church, Father Ken Dakin, said that communion will be done differently and parishioners have been instructed not to hold hands during ceremonies.

“The recommendation now is to receive communion in the hand rather than in the mouth,” Dakin said. “We're not distributing the blood of Christ in the cup.”
By Warren Brown
Warren joined Community Impact at the beginning of 2020 as the editor of its New Braunfels paper and now reports the news in San Marcos, Buda and Kyle. Warren previously wrote for the Dallas Observer and Fort Worth Weekly and he brings a passion for truth and equality to his reporting.


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