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Columbia businesses talk about impacts of Mizzou going virtual after Thanksgiving break

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

The University of Missouri is asking students to stay home after Thanksgiving break, which could impact businesses' revenue in the coming weeks.

MU leaders made the announcement Thursday in a message to the campus. Classes will continue online for three weeks after the holiday break.

The President of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce Matt McCormick said there could be a number of impacts on the business community including staffing issues and sales loss.

"We understand why they are working this direction, and working for the safety of their students and community, but there are different impacts it could possibly have," McCormick said. "The student population is part of what makes Columbia, Columbia."

The University of Missouri also sent students home in the spring at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, but McCormick said this time around is different because it's a shorter period of time and businesses have been able to prepare.

"They've been through this, and have prepared and maybe know how to do this a little better than we all did back in March," McCormick said.

Cases in Boone County also continue to surge. The health department reported 176 new cases, bring the total of active cases to 1,190. McCormick said these spike leaves businesses feeling uncertain about what's next, as things change on a daily basis.

"How do we keep everyone safe, but at the same time they can still be open and be prosperous so they can afford to keep their employees working," McCormick said. "It's finding that balance."

Owner of The Heidelberg restaurant Richard Walls said they have already seen a drop in business as fewer students are moving around campus, and it's something they will have to plan for when students don't return after Thanksgiving.

"We can only control what we can control," Walls said. "The external factors as far as football cancellations, online classes, we're here, we're here Columbia, we're here for MU either way."

The owner of Pizza Tree John Gilbreth said his main concern is staffing issues because many of his employees are students.

"Otherwise, I think it's the best way to mitigate the spread," Gibreth said.

He isn't too concerned about a lack in business and hopes this could help put an end to the spread in Columbia.

"The longer it gets dragged on the worse it's going to be," Gilbreth said. "Everybody has to hunker down somewhere, so whatever it takes to keep this community safe."

Watch ABC17 News at 9 and 10 for the full report.

Coronavirus / Education / News / Top Stories / Top Stories / University of Missouri

Connor Hirsch

Connor Hirsch reports for the weekday night shows, as well as Sunday nights.

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