Businesses Planning for Eventual Reopening

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As Massachusetts continues trying to curb the spread of COVID-19, businesses are struggling to stay afloat.

Allan Rodriguez, co-owner of El Centro, a Mexican restaurant in Dedham, says the coronavirus crisis has hit his business hard.

"Sales dropped 90%," he said.

Rodriguez was trying to stay positive on the day before Cinco de Mayo.

"Our sales actually triple on that day," he said.

Like so many business owners, he would love to be re-opening on May 18, Gov. Charlie Baker's extended stay-at-home deadline. But he knows that's not going to happen.

"I do believe it's going to be probably on the 18th when they will probably extend it another couple of weeks," he said.

In fact, the Baker administration announced Monday that May 18 is actually the day they will release the phased plan to reopen. So Rodriguez has set his sights farther down the road.

"I will say by mid-June, we are going to be 50%," he said. "Back to normal, in my opinion, will be probably September/October, something like that."

There is some confusion. Swansea Country Club owner Larry Doyle thought May 18 was a tentative reopen date and was planning accordingly.

"I'm actually hoping he would let us open even a few days before the 18th," he said.

Doyle is hoping he can salvage some of his seasonal business by being open at least part of the summer. His rearranged, socially-distanced dining room is ready to go and he's fully stocked with masks and gloves.

"We will probably lose at least half our revenues, even once we are able to open," he said.

Rodriguez is also ready, beefing up takeout for now and thinking creatively about the future.

"I do believe, as a business person, that we are in a coma. So we have to figure out when we wake up, what are we going to do," he said.

Rodriguez says even when they do open, social distancing will likely mean 75% fewer tables. But he thinks he can hang on that way -- at least for a few months.

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