ENID, Okla. — A number of Enid businesses are bracing for the impact of a mandatory three-week closure, after an emergency declaration issued by the city of Enid on Friday, March 20, 2020.

Enid Mayor George Pankonin signed the declaration, limiting social and religious gatherings, restricting restaurant access and closing many businesses outright.

Citing the Enid Municipal Code, the mayor's declaration, which will go into effect at 11:59 p.m. Saturday, prohibits social gatherings or religious services of more than 10 people.

Restaurants are limited to drive-through, take-out or delivery service.

And many businesses, including bars, gyms, exercise facilities, miniature golf, bowling alleys, arcades, skating rinks and movie theaters, are closed to the public. 

The regulations will expire 11:59 p.m. April 13, unless extended, according to a city press release. The maximum penalty under the city ordinance is a $500 fine.

Derrick Silas, director of communications for the city of Enid, said the fine isn't the intent of the emergency declaration. The intent, he said, is to give guidance that's consistent with CDC recommendations.

In the press release, Pankonin said the measures are a necessary step to prevent spread of the coronavirus.

“After much research, thought and discussion, I have decided to take our emergency proclamation to the inevitable next step," Pankonin said. "It would be irresponsible to hold off until someone is critically ill or deceased in our city to make this tough decision.” 

Enid City Manager Jerald Gilbert said the emergency declaration is intended to "heighten our attempt to stop the spread" of coronavirus.

"Some people think it’s already here, but we don’t have enough tests,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert said no one will be arrested due to the emergency proclamation. Code enforcement may contact those not following the directive, he said.

“We’re not doing it to raise revenue to write tickets,” he said. “We appreciate all the voluntary compliance that’s already happened.”

Jim Tate, owner of Oakwood Bowl, said he already had decided to close his business for a week when he found out the city was shutting him down for more than three weeks.

He said the impact of being closed for that long will be significant.

"Closing for ... close to a month will be a huge hit," Tate said. "We've got all the people that work here, The Shack Restaurant in the bowling center, and all the people who work there — it will be a tremendous hit."

Tate said he'd already been to the bank to open an emergency line of credit, and is looking into loans to stay afloat, if necessary.

Salaried employees will stay on and keep getting paid, and will be doing annual maintenance, Tate said.

"The hourly people are the ones that are going to hurt," he said, "because there really won't be anything for them to do."

Oakwood Bowl employs 10 hourly workers, Tate said.

Tate said he's confident the business will "come out OK, but missing a month of income — nobody wants to see that."

While bars are ordered to close, some easing of restrictions Friday by the ABLE Commission is giving hope to downtown breweries. 

Justin Blasier, co-owner and brew master at Enid Brewing Co., said his business already had shut down its indoor seating and bar. But, ABLE is allowing curbside to-go orders for canned beer and growlers — large sealed containers of beer.

Enid Brewing Co.'s food truck also will remain open for to-go orders, Blasier said, and customers can order food and beer and pay online on the company's website.

Blasier said the closure will inevitably hurt sales, "but we're just trying to deal with it as best we can, and continue to serve our customers."

"The most important thing is everyone stays safe and healthy," Blasier said. "I think us as a city, and state and country, we're all strong enough to get through this."

Whether Enid Brewing Co. and other small businesses get through this — Blasier said that's up to the community.

"The biggest thing everyone can do is support local businesses right now," he said.

At nearby Settlers Brewing Co., tap room manager Chandler Hofen said they also are continuing to-go orders of 32- and 64-ounce growlers.

As for the impact the closures will have on the business, which just opened last month, Hofen said "We're not really sure."

"We're going to do our best," Hofen said, "and provide what we can, and try to stay positive through it all."

Veronica Hunt, owner at SkateTown, said she'd already closed down on Friday after guidelines dropped to no more than 10 people in a gathering.

She said she's just one small business owner among a community of small business owners that need the community's help. 

"We're praying for all the small businesses," Hunt said. "We need to survive for our community to survive — all small businesses, not just us."

Oklahoma State Department of Health has provided a statewide COVID-19 call center, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekends, at (877) 215-8336.  

City updates will be provided at www.Enid.org/coronavirus.



BREAKING NEWS on the COVID-19 threat and its impact is available at https://www.enidnews.com/virus and is free for all readers. That includes information on closings and cancellations.

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Neal is health, military affairs and religion reporter and columnist for the Enid News & Eagle. Follow him on Twitter, @jamesnealwriter, and online at jamesrneal.com.
Have a question about this story? Do you see something we missed? Do you have a story idea for James? Send an email to jneal@enidnews.com.

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