PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - On Walnut Street in Shadyside and throughout southwestern Pennsylvania, small business owners say they can't stay closed much longer and survive. They're eagerly awaiting word from Harrisburg on when they can reopen.
Henne Jewelers is a Shadyside institution. But with business down 80 percent, John Henne has had to lay off his 35 employees and he's worried about the future.
"It's something most can get through if it's a limited period. If the period goes too long, even strong businesses are going to have a tough time," says Henne.
Like other retailers, Henne's eyes will be on Harrisburg Friday, hoping Governor Wolf will be lifting the business lockdown through our region.
"I think we're ready to open up responsibly," says Henne. "We want to be thoughtful about it. We want to do it right. Safety is priority, but we are ready to open up."
As KDKA has reported, our region appears to have met the governor's metric of having less than 50 new COVID-19 cases a day per 100,000 residents over a 14-day span. In the past two weeks, Allegheny County has had 369 new cases for an average of 30 per 100,000. Our 11-county southwestern Pa. region has had 908 new cases for an average of 33 cases -- well under that bar.
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The governor acknowledged that in a conference call with reporters Thursday, but said a final decision hasn't yet been made.
"I'm not going to go into what you can expect because we haven't even made the list up yet," said Gov. Tom Wolf. "I think the southwest has done quite well, but Allegheny County has done well. I think if you look it at per capita basis, they've all done very well."
"Of course I want to do business, of course I know it's Mother's Day and I have lots of bills and lots of obligations and a store full of inventory I'd love to sell," says Roberta Weissburg of Roberta Weissburg Leathers.
But she says she also understands the caution and the need to do it right: "I will not open up until I know it's safe for my staff and my beloved customers."
The governor maintains he still has not drawn up his list of counties and regions that will open under his "phase yellow" but for deserted business districts like on Walnut Street, the decision cannot come soon enough.
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