Small Business Owner says Closing Again Would Be “Devastating”

Chris Cobb, owner of Exit/In, told Cassandra Stephenson of the Nashville Tennessean, that he decided to close the Nashville music venue on March 15 out of concern for the safety of both performers and fans.

Nearly 30 Exit/In employees have been laid off, and the venue now is streaming performances online, selling posters and merchandise and collecting donations to help cover the paychecks of the six employees that remain.

While closing Exit/In’s doors was “horrific,” Cobb is reluctant to get back to business as usual. Re-opening means investing more capital to hire back staff, replenish supplies and get things off the ground. If COVID-19 cases spike again, closing for a second time would be “devastating.”

“Music venues and sporting events, these are going to be the types of events that signal that it’s okay to get back to normal, so we’re going to have to be really, really sure that it’s okay to get back before we start putting people in that position,” Cobb said.

“We can’t take shortcuts,” said Dr. Heather Boushey, CEO of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth and former economist for the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress.

“As long as people can still get sick in places of business or in their workplaces, and so long as our health system is being overtaxed because there are just too many cases, we’re not going to be able to get the economy functioning back the way we would like it to. It simply won’t be possible.”

Dr. Aaron Milstone stated, “the safer-at-home order has had ‘dramatic’ positive impact in the fight against the disease. He’s seen lower hospital census numbers, more personal protective equipment available and better-rested staff as a result, all factors that improve patient outcomes.”

For him one thing is clear: “We need to keep the stay-at-home order until the medical community says that it is safe to lift,” he said.