Newport pandemic assistance could help save local businesses hit by pandemic

Posted at 4:25 PM, Dec 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-01 19:41:55-05

NEWPORT, Ky. — As small businesses across the Tri-State struggle to rebound from the damage done by the pandemic and subsequent shutdowns, small businesses in Newport could get a boost, thanks to a new emergency business assistance program.

The program was announced at the start of the pandemic, but the application for the extra funding is now officially up and running. Gyms, bars and restaurants are encouraged to apply, because they've been hit the hardest, particularly with Gov. Andy Beshear's recent mandate barring any indoor dining and limits to gym capacity.

"We were having an amazing vibe, a great fall," said Justin Carabello, owner of Carabello Coffee. "And then, suddenly, just deadsville."

He said things fell silent after the new mandate last month, a time when they had begun to rebound. While he understands how serious the COVID-19 virus is, he said he feels restrictions have unfairly targeted the restaurant industry in particular.

His coffee shop has lost roughly 100 sales a day since the newest restrictions went into place.

"We are being punished at a time when you can shop any retail store in this city," he said. "You can go to any other business. You can go inside and get your nails done, you can get a massage, you can get your hair cut, but you can't come to your local coffee shop and get a cup of coffee?"

The City of Newport created the COVID-19 local business financial assistance program for just this reason. Small businesses impacted by the state mandate can receive a grant worth up to $1,000.

"We have the support of our city, and we have a wonderful city government, but this is a problem that they didn't create; and, honestly, it's not theirs to solve," said Carabello.

He said he plans to apply for the program, which is accepting applications until Jan. 4. The state of Kentucky is also offering a $10,000 grant, funded by the federal CARES Act.