The unpredictability for small businesses and businessowners alike during COVID-19 has been unprecedented. For myself, running a seasonal resort amid a pandemic has become increasingly difficult and almost downright impossible due to recent conflicting decisions made by the US Forest Service, the California governor and those in Plumas County who follow his lead. Like other bars and restaurants across the state, our business has been closed for the third time since the virus started. As of today, we are closed with no anticipated date of reopening.
Our establishment is located directly on the PCT. I am receiving countless emails from hikers asking if we will be open during the summer months of 2021. Hikers are asking if we can hold resupply packages for them to pick up when they pass through the area. How do I prepare to answer the thousands of hikers who are now being granted PCT permits while our business, located directly on the PCT, is closed for a third time due to a stay-at-home order? What facts can I rely on to influence my decision-making?
First, we have a local government who has our businesses closed to the public due to a stay-at-home order while vaccinations are going out at a much slower pace than anticipated. On the other hand, we have the US Forest Service who has now decided they will issue permits to thousands of PCT hikers for the 2021 season! Why can’t everyone be on the same page as to how we are going to handle this pandemic?
Hundreds of hikers rely on our location to resupply, rest, and eat/drink at our establishment during their travels. Do I hire staff to handle the massive surge of PCT hikers that stop at our business every day throughout the summer because of the PCT permits being issued? Or should I anticipate being closed as we are at this moment, with no reopening date in sight and a new strain of COVID-19 being reported?
It would be much easier on seasonal businesses like our own if the county, governor, and forest service can make a unified decision as soon as possible so businessowners and travelers alike will know what to expect for the upcoming summer season. Businesses should be able to better prepare after a year of huge financial loss. Right now, we are turning clientele away until we can reopen our doors, and, just like every other small business, we are feeling it.
Right now, I’m only a few months away from needing staff and inventory to serve thousands of PCT hikers, or, being forced to close while thousands of misled hikers with permits pass by our establishment hungry and thirsty with no place to rest. Does it make sense to anyone why the US Forest Service would issue permits to thousands of people from around the world to hike through a state that as of this moment is on complete lockdown?
The contradiction amongst our local and federal government is causing stress and unrest for many including our local businesses who rely on seasonal travelers, their staff, and hikers who pour in from around the globe to hike the PCT. Whether we can reopen this summer, or whether we are forced to close, a little consistency from those determining our fate would be nice. If only we could get answers from those we have to answer to, maybe we could have a chance to operate accordingly in the months to come.
Cory Brubaker, Manager, Belden Town Resort