By Everett Brazil, III
The Newkirk Herald Journal
NEWKIRK — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt recently unveiled a new, amended Executive Oder 2020-07 Tuesday afternoon, March 24, to help in the fight of the COVID-19 pandemic. Those new regulations called for restrictions on certain businesses in an effort to slow the spread of the disease. Those restrictions have hit home in Newkirk, and now some businesses are facing several weeks of closure as the government cracks down on COVID-19.
“We remain committed to making decisions based on reliable data, emerging science and the advice of experts from my Governor’s Solution Task Force, the State Department of Health and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention) on how to best slow the spread of COVID-19,”Gov. Stitt said in the press release. “These new action items will allow us to ensure we remain proactive in our response to this on-going crisis. We will continue to take the necessary precautions and steps in order to prioritize the health and safety of all 4 million Oklahomans.”
According to the Executive Order, several statewide measures are now in place for all 77 counties. That includes a “Safer at Home” order for senior citizens older than 65, as well as those with certain medical conditions. People may not gather in groups larger than 10, and visitation to long-term care facilities, such nursing homes is prohibited. Finally, surgeries, minor medical procedures and minor dental procedures are prohibited until April 7.
The Executive Order also had more restrictive provisions for counties with known COVID-19 infections, including Kay County. All restaurants may only offer takeout or delivery options, including curbside service. Businesses deemed non-critical are to be closed until April 15. Those businesses include bars, gyms, massage and tattoo parlors, hair salons and other facilities which have a lot of social interactions.
These new orders are impacting the Newkirk community.
Newkirk Dental Center already closed their local facility before the executive order, temporarily moving their operations to the larger facility in Blackwell, but now they have to further consolidate operations. Basic services aren’t allowed, only emergencies are addressed.
“We can’t see patients unless they are in pain, and we cannot have more than 10 people in that office at any time,” said clinic director Misty Jordan. “A lot of people are trying to ger in for Invisalign or cleaning, but we can’t see them, we can only see people who are in pain.”
The staff at the Blackwell clinic are working hard to see emergency oral patients, especially to keep them out of emergency rooms to get the proper treatment.
“We are hoping to stay open and see emergency patients so they stay out of the hospital and emergency room, helping the medical staff in that way,” she said “I’ll see anyone who is in pain, we’ll help them so they don’t have to go to the emergency room.”
While Newkirk Dental Center is able to continue operating, some have to close, including Hair Candy by Shelsey and Beautiful Reflections, along with several other salons closed by the Executive Order.
“The shop‘s closed for 21 days, per Gov. Stitt’s orders. We won’t get paid for then, but we’ll make it, we’ll be fine,” said Kathy Landis, Beautiful Reflections.
All restaurants, regardless of type of service, are forced to offer curbside and takeout services, as dining rooms are ordered closed to the public, except to pick up those orders. Restaurants like Cheeky Burger and Sonic Drive-In already focus on curbside and takeout orders, but dine-in facilities like Stagecoach Restaurant, Main Street Bakery and Capone’s Hoagies, must now adjust to reduced service.
The good news for these facilities is that they have still seen a lot of traffic, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The only think that’s affecting us is we can’t allow people to come into the store, but we do do takeout orders,” said Bob Capone, of Capone’s Hoagies. “Most everybody has preferred to do takeout and curbside, where you take it out to your vehicle.”
Capone’s Hoagies opened March 17, and while overall traffic has dropped, sales haven’t, as they see return patrons coming in, as well as orders for larger sandwiches, and group orders.
“Right now, (March 25), from last week, we are 21 percent down in customers, but what I’ve been seeing is our actual sales for today, we’re really close to what we did last week,” Capone said. “We are seeing an uptick in larger sandwiches. We are getting orders of five to six sandwiches.”
For the most part, the businesses believe they will be survive, even as they have to temporarily adapt to a new way of operation for the next few weeks.
“I think we are going to be okay,” Capone said. “We’re discussing the option of limited delivery of the Newkirk area. We haven’t done any deliveries yet, but if it’s requested especially by our elders, we’ll consider it.”
Ultimately, the businesses understand the need to reduce operation in the hopes it may limit or even prevent the spread of COVID19, especially in Newkirk, but are still bracing for a hit, especially small businesses.
“I think it’s good to tr to get a hold of the virus situation, but is sure is going to hurt a lot of the small businesses,” Landis said.