NCW — Wenatchee business owners say they will not be greatly impacted by new state regulations, reducing the number of people inside stores in Chelan and Douglas counties.
The state updated its regulations Wednesday for counties in phase 1.5 reopenings, according to a state Department of Health news release. The regulations standardized the rules for counties across the state, which differed before between counties. One of the changes reduced the number of people allowed in stores from 50% to 30% capacity.
It isn’t that much of a difference for small retail stores in downtown Wenatchee, said Shiloh Burgess, Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce executive director. A lot of retailers are operating at 30% to 40% of capacity anyways and the business space is so small the percent reduction isn’t that substantial.
“Some retailers may see a small reduction in, you know, how many customers can be in their store, one to two customers, but overall it doesn’t (seem to) negatively impact them at this point in time,” Burgess said.
The reduction in customers shouldn’t affect shopping at the Plaza Super Jet, Owner Jeff Lau said. He doesn’t see more than about 30% occupancy inside of the grocery store at one time anyway.
“Some of the smaller shops I’m sure it’s probably troublesome,” Lau said. “But what we’re doing is just to make sure that we’re checking people out quickly and that’s really kind of helped to mitigate the number of people in here.”
The COVID-19 regulations haven’t impacted his business much at all once employees got to use to the new restrictions, he said. The biggest challenge has been customers who don’t want to comply with wearing a mask.
“We’re pretty aggressive on enforcement and not shy about telling people they can’t shop here if they don’t wear a mask,” Lau said. “We get a lot of people screaming about civil liberties and this is communist Russia.”
An inspector from the state Department of Labor and Industries also came to the store after hearing reports that the Plaza Super Jet wasn’t enforcing the masking policy, he said.
“He was just kind of looking around and he said, ‘I guess it was unfounded,’ and he left,” Lau said with a laugh.
The biggest concern for the Pybus Public Market will be the Wenatchee Valley Farmers Market on Saturday, said Leslie Freytag, Pybus Public Market executive director. The market itself is big enough with enough ventilation that it doesn’t need to worry about counting the number of people inside, she said.
As for each of the shops, they’re all individually responsible for what goes on in their space, she said.
“We’re one big family,” Freytag said. “We’re all working closely together to ensure the safety of every one of our guests.”