/ Modified apr 10, 2020 4:32 p.m.

Local businesses adapt to pandemic-related restrictions

Plus, how the outbreak could continue to influence building designers and architects.

This week, Arizona 360 visited local businesses to see how they are adapting to restrictions under the COVID-19 pandemic.

Restaurants and bars in Tucson received orders to suspend dine-in services nearly a month ago. Since then, the owner of Shish Kebab House of Tucson, Reina Alas, said sales have dropped 70% during the transition to take-out only. She described the financial and emotional toll that COVID-19 has had on her restaurant.

“Now that I see it so empty — I come in the morning and sometimes I kneel down and pray. I say, ‘God, give me a better day today,’” Alas said.

Other businesses have taken less of a hit. Green Things has only seen a slight drop in revenue compared to last year, owner Jan Westenborg said. Like hardware and grocery stores, nurseries are also considered essential.

“We offer basic goods and services to the public,” Westenborg said. “And we have the knowledge to help the public plant all of those things.”

Newly implemented safety measures give people the option to pay over the phone and pick up their orders without stepping out of their cars. For customers who choose to shop in person, staff regularly disinfect carts, pens and other common surfaces.

As businesses adjust in the short-term, University of Arizona School of Architecture assistant professor Altaf Engineer described how the pandemic will likely usher in a new era of designed focused on reducing the need for people to touch various surfaces in order to minimize the spread of germs.

“We’re looking to make changes that will be more permanent, that will prevent pandemics of this nature from happening again. And I think we can make a big difference in bridging architecture and medicine,” Engineer said.

Arizona 360
Arizona 360 airs Fridays at 8:30 p.m. on PBS 6 and Saturdays at 8 p.m. on PBS 6 PLUS. See more from Arizona 360.
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