Mixed reaction from business owners on countywide curfew

From the Tallahassee Democrat

Local businesses owners largely support the countywide curfew implemented to speed up recovery efforts and keep residents off roads littered with fallen trees and downed power lines.

But others said the restrictions hindered businesses from being there for residents.

“Better to be safe than to be sorry,” said Lynne Edwards, owner of 319 Wine and Cheese Shoppe and Bistro. “No one, not an owner or customer, needs to be out on the road. I am an owner and want to be with my family safely home as our customers need to be, keep our police and first responders safe too.”

Rick Oppenheim, CEO at RB Oppenheim Associates, a marketing and communications firm, said the curfew is a smart idea.

“It was necessary to protect those who don’t have the sense to stay out of harm’s way and to protect us from those who would do us harm or with mischief on their minds,” Oppenheim said. “Given conditions (and a Sunday night), few businesses were open anyway.”

The curfew required all Leon County residents and visitors to remain indoors from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. Sunday through Tuesday. The threat of damaging winds, downed trees and power lines is a “real risk to the public,” according to a statement released by the county.

But some say the curfew hinders some businesses from being readily available for residents and evacuees in need.

“I know that some of our downtown restaurants and bars will have power before a lot of other places and would be willing to host those that don’t have power and need some food, water, and Wi Fi, but the curfew may prevent them from being able to do that,” said Jared Willis, public policy director of the Downtown Tallahassee Business Association.

Mike Ferrara, owner of Cabos Island Grill and Bar, noted no curfew followed last year’s Hurricane Hermine.

“I will give them Sunday and even Monday for a curfew. But Tuesday? Partly cloudy SW winds 10 to 15 mph? I think the County may have been sucked into this mass hysteria driven by the Weather Channel and social media,” he said. “Not cool.”

Still, others said the curfew was a necessary precaution.

“Our community leaders have shown a great commitment to keeping our city and county safe this week,” said Sue Dick, president and CEO of the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce. “The curfew is a precautionary measure taken in hopes of keeping people as safe as possible. Our business community has proven again how they step up to keep citizens fed, housed, and safe as well. We hope that damages are limited and that precautionary measures like the curfew will not have to be in place long.”