LEAVENWORTH — Warmer weather and sunnier days often mark the beginning of Leavenworth’s visitor season, but not this year.
Now, with health officials urging people to stay home, the prevention of COVID-19 spread has nearly cut off tourist traffic.
Leavenworth Mayor Carl Florea said many shops have no way to stay open, and that means layoffs. These are scary times, he said, with the unknown causing much of the fear.
“We’re taking it a day at a time,” he said.
Local businesses, including lodging and restaurants, heavily rely on tourist traffic. Some hotels, restaurants and bars have closed and others have sought other ways to serve customers.
Most likely, Leavenworth will be dealing with mass shutdowns for the next few months, he said, but how long the crisis will last is unknown.
Florea said he hopes people’s pent-up demand to go out and do something will help to benefit Leavenworth’s now struggling shops after the COVID-19 crisis passes.
Everyone has fears, but fear should not lead decisions — love should, he said. The community will get through this together, the mayor said.
Rhia Foster, one of three employees at Bushel & Bee Taproom, said March is typically a slower month but “definitely not as extreme” as how it is now. Having a little break now is nice, though disconcerting, she said.
The taproom is a small gathering spot in Leavenworth, often bringing together various musicians and locals. For Foster, it’s a “community hang.”
“This would be a time when we would be embracing our community” by going out and seeing each other, she said. Life in town is “a little strange” at the moment, she added.
Just like other businesses, the taproom’s revenue is hurting, she said.
Foster said she is very appreciative of the Leavenworth community coming together to help each other. It is impressive the number of people who have reached out, she said.
Nancy Smith, executive director of the Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce, said she is hoping the COVID-19 crisis reconciles itself before Leavenworth’s busier seasons start in the summer.
If it does not, Leavenworth will lose restaurants and shops on smaller margins, she said. “We’re in it for the long haul. But, hopefully, it’s a shorter haul,” she said.
There’s always up and downs in the market for a variety of reasons, be it avalanches or wildfires, she said. Hopefully, previous big months for revenue, like December, will help hold people through, she said.
Comparatively speaking, this March will have some significant drops in revenue for businesses, Smith said. But people are pretty inventive, she said, and continue to think of good methods to help business in safe, appropriate ways.
“Folks have been able to rally around the needs that are out there,” she said. “We’re a small community with big hearts.”