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Owners fear losing businesses in San Francisco during coronavirus pandemic

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – “Every business is going to go bankrupt, almost every single one of them. Nothings going to be left if we’re forced to close for four to 6 months straight,” Ben Bleiman said.

That’s the feeling for a lot of business owners in San Francisco, despite the moratorium on commercial evictions.

The concerns come as places like bars, gyms, and movie theaters are forced to close during the coronavirus pandemic.

As you can imagine, they say things aren’t looking good.

We’re seeing locked, closed doors and even some windows boarded up across the city to prevent theft while these bars are closed.

But ultimately these closures mean many are out of work, and it could be weeks, maybe even months.

“There’s no precedent for this. We’re in completely unchartered territory here and it looks like it may last for months. A lot of us are really scared, really nervous,” Bleiman said.

Ben Bleiman owns several bars across San Francisco — Teeth, Tonic, and Soda Popinski’s — all three of them now closed due to a city order to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Even before the forced closures, Bleiman says many bars took a hit as parties canceled and people weren’t going out as often.

“We started feeling it about a week and a half ago where our sales just completely dropped. We were about 70% down for the last week and a half before we closed,” Bleiman said.

The drop in business and closures aren’t just affecting him and his family but also 50 of his employees.

“Our employees are now out of work so we’re trying to help them and figure out how they can apply for unemployment, figure out their next steps, cutting them their last checks now including their paid sick time off,” Bleiman said.

And to keep the bars running for when they’re able to open again, Bleiman says businesses need more help from the government, like low-interest loans and bailouts.

“There’s been a lot of talk of applying for these loans but they still haven’t come out and I don’t know what the federal government is doing but we are in a full-scale free fall of an emergency and we need help right now,” Bleiman said.

To keep things going, Bleiman says many business owners are asking landlords for rent forgiveness or rent abatement.

He and others hope the government at all levels can come up with some solutions fast to keep these businesses from going under.

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