Branson businesses shut-down, workers laid-off and needing help

BRANSON, MO. -- The City of Branson has shut-down all non-essential businesses to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

While some businesses have been closed voluntarily for a week or more, Branson leaders made it mandatory for places like retail stores and entertainment to shut their doors during an emergency Board of Aldermen meeting on Monday.

"It has affected everyone, small business owners. It's sad," Melissa Teubner said.

With Branson basically shut down, many people are unemployed.

"I'm without a job," Teubner said.

Most people who work in the tourism industry are now without options, right after the off-season.

"I had enough put back, thinking I was going to start working now. So, it's been a real hardship," Donna Zurzolo said.

Branson leaders limited restaurants to carry-out only and shut-down all non-essential businesses, like stores and theaters, to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Only places like grocery stores, medical facilities, gas stations, and pharmacies are allowed to stay open.

"It's hurting. But, I'm thankful they did it, so it will protect the community," Zurzolo said.

Meanwhile, places like Christian Action Ministries are protecting people, too.

"Yesterday we had 116 households, which I believe is a record for our operation here in Branson," Director Kevin Huddleston said.

Non-profits like CAM are allowed to stay open, while volunteers keep their distance from each other and those they help through a daily, drive-through food pantry.

"I don't know where we would all be without some help like this," Zurzolo said.

Leaders at CAM say keeping places like this going is more important now than ever.

"It's very sad to see, but what's gratifying is the amount of support we are seeing. We are still getting volunteers. We are still getting checks in from people," Huddleston said.

He says it's all about helping people during uncertain times.

"It's a struggle for everyone and I don't know how people are going to do it," Teubner said. "There are people that are willing to make sacrifices to help other people."

Locals say now is a time when coming together has never been so important.

"That's America," Zurzolo said.

This new rule lasts as long as the mayor's proclamation of emergency, which, right now, is May 15. If you need to know whether or not your business is considered essential, you can contact the emergency management director at the fire station.

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