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KCMO mayor encourages people to buy local during coronavirus crisis

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Posted at 5:57 AM, Mar 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-18 06:59:30-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Restaurants want customers to know they may be down, but they are not out.

New rules in Kansas City, Missouri, and surrounding counties limit restaurants to only provide carry out and delivery.

Leaders do not want groups of people congregating in bars or dining rooms because of worries that close proximity will more easily spread COVID-19, a viral infection sweeping the United States.

The mayor of Kansas City, Quinton Lucas highlighted his dining choices on social media to encourage others to support local businesses who may be struggling with fewer customers.

“It’s important to still support local businesses as much as you can during this time! We’ll get through this together,” he wrote on Twitter.

Rebecca Huntsman hopes people visit her restaurant, Caleb’s Breakfast and Lunch at the Red Bridge Shopping Center in south Kansas City.

She’s staying open to give her employees a chance to earn money. Huntsman admitted the new business is still paying off opening costs and doesn’t have a cushion to support workers for an extended shut down.

Huntsman is skeptical about investing in delivery options out of fear the city could hand down even more restrictive regulations.

“In a few days they [might] say we can't even cook in our kitchen,” Huntsman said. “So with everything changing so quickly, we're just really trying to fly by the seat of our pants and adjust. It's an interesting few days.”

In Midtown, Room 39 says it has seen its business drop by about 60 percent since fears of COVID-19 started spreading. It is now offering curbside pick-up for customers and continues working with Postmates to deliver orders.

While employees remain in the restaurant, sanitation is the top priority.

“We were walking through spraying down door handles, any handle, any surface that someone could just walk in and touch,” explained Brooke Emerson, a manager. “We're just hitting things three or four times whereas previously we would've done it twice."

Many restaurants are following the mayor’s lead and using social media to drum up support.