2 years later: Philadelphia-area businesses reflect on COVID-19 lockdowns

Local health officials say the Covid-19 infection rate is significantly down, but another slight uptick in a month is expected.
MEDIA, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- On March 14, 2020, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced the two-week closure of all schools and non-essential businesses due to an outbreak of the coronavirus.

Restaurants closed for indoor dining, salons shuddered and all of their patrons were forced to stay home.

"We're used to packing in, you know, a couple hundred people here for Friday and Saturday nights, and the rest of the week about the same. So to take that away and try to rely on just takeout to pay the bills and the staff, that was tough," said Spasso Italian Grill manager Zac Schauerman.

Little did we know that two weeks would become two years.

Tom Buglio of Taylor's Music Store and Studios in West Chester says it's been tough.

"You can understand why the band instruments didn't do well because school was shut down for a year," said Buglio.

Buglio had to switch to giving music lessons virtually and advertise their instruments heavily to remind customers they were still around.

But things are coming back.

"I would say business is, to the point, we're about 80 to 90% where we were before the pandemic," he said.

Next door at Ryan's Pub they're making progress as well.

"Our older clientele seems to be coming back in. People aren't as cautious," said owner Pat Ryan.

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It was two years ago today when many restaurants and small businesses shut down due to the COVID-19 outbreak.



He credits a tremendous staff and loyal customers for getting them through.

"I'm fortunate enough to have a core staff that was willing to step up and wait tables, wait tables outside, run inside and bartend. We had outstanding customers every weekend," said Ryan.

Health officials say we're now shifting from a pandemic to an endemic.

"Endemic just means that it's now here and probably going to stay," said Dr. Debra Powell, chief of the division of infectious diseases at Tower Health.

Powell says the Covid-19 infection rate is significantly down, but another slight uptick in a month is expected.

"There is a new variant that's circulating -- it's BA.2. It's a subvariant of omicron. It's more infectious than the initial omicron variant, but not any more severe in disease," she said.

It's unsettling news to parents still waiting for FDA approval on a vaccine for children under five.

"The initial dose I think was too low. And now with a higher dose, we can get to that higher efficacy rate that we really need," said Powell.

She says we can expect a few more months of testing before it's approved.
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