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Local businesses stay open as Congress debates stimulus package

Posted: 9:34 PM, Mar 25, 2020
Updated: 2020-03-25 23:54:54-04
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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - An empty restaurant doesn't mean an empty stomach.

Bay Local Eatery in Virginia Beach is one of many restaurants making the tough decision to stay open.

"We're cutting all the things out we can cut out without cutting out the quality of what we still do," says owner Adrian Colaprete.

As employees keep orders moving, Congress rushes to offer some relief. Their goal is to pass a $2 trillion stimulus package.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Secretary of Finance for Virginia Aubrey Layne boasted about what the bill could mean for Americans.

"At a minimum, even a small state would receive $1.5 billion and hopefully Virginia will get much more than that," Layne said.

The bill is designed to offer billions of dollars' worth of loans to groups like small businesses; however, nothing is set in stone yet. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the House will have at least 24 hours of notice before voting on the bill.

That time frame making it difficult for local businesses to make decisions. Colaprete says, "I can't wait and have 122 employees sit around and wait for what decision the government comes up with and how that will affect them."

Later Wednesday night, the Senate passed the bill, sending it to the House. “This is not the first step Congress has taken to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, nor will it be the last," Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia said in part.

At both Bay Local locations, Colaprete says they haven't had to get rid of any employees, but they have had to majorly cut down on employees' hours. If you stop by their locations, you'll see they've even had to change the way their operations look.

Curbside pickup has become the new normal, along with online orders.

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The stimulus package proposal could also offer cash payments to individuals and families.

"I'm still making a paycheck, but for those who have been given short-term notice that their job is closing or they're not going to be going back to work, I think it will help them," says Breean Walker, a Virginia Beach resident.

Related: Hampton Roads Virtual Tip Jar aims to help struggling service workers

On the other hand, Colaprete says he'll be curious to see if the money is distributed to the correct people in the correct amount.

"I personally don't think that's quite enough, but I do think if it's dispersed properly to the right people, yes, it will help boost what's going on."

Regardless of what national decisions are made, Bay Local Eatery says they'll adapt so they don't let down employees or customers.

"We want to keep it going. We want to keep the community alive and, you know, try to piece this together," he says.

Click here for full coronavirus coverage.