Small businesses on the edges of the Capitol Hill protest zone — many of which have been using their facilities to help the communities and activists at work there — are in the midst of figuring out how to safely and economically sustain their businesses as COVID-19 restrictions are slowly lifted and in the middle of a rapidly changing demonstration and camp right outside their doors.
“The decision to reopen was literally a survival mode decision — our staff cannot live off unemployment, they have to go back to work to feed their families. We have to go back to work to pay rent,” BANG owner Casey Nickole tells CHS.
Nickole reopened her four hair salons at 25% capacity on Monday after three months of closure. BANG’s E Pine location is situated less than half a block away from the East Precinct where protestors have established and maintained a camp and demonstration area for more than a week.
This week, King County applied to move into Phase 2 to gradually lift COVID-19 restrictions. Local businesses after an interim step this month which allows restaurants, retailers and personal services like hair salons to open to the public at limited capacities. By Friday, things could open up a little bit more.
For a little over a week, BANG turned its Capitol Hill locations into spaces to aid protestors at the Pine and 11th standoff. The business offered bathrooms, food, phone chargers, wifi and medical support to protestors.
“We treated a rubber bullet wound, tear gas — we were like putting people in the shampoo bowls and rinsing their faces off,” Nickole recalled. Continue reading