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Billings businesses feeling economic pain due to coronavirus

Posted at 6:56 PM, Mar 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-13 20:56:02-04

Billings businesses say they are hurting from event cancellations aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus, known as COVID-19.

“In the 32 years of business, I have never seen anything like this… I can’t liken this to anything that has happened in the past, so it’s definitely uncharted waters for us,” says Kesley Jones, manager of Step’n Out in Billings.

Jones said Friday that although proms and dances in Billings schools have been canceled due to the coronavirus, some of the order are still going through. About a third of the 100 customers said they will still use their tuxedos and dresses and at least take pictures or have their own events, she said.

It's a tough season for cancellations, Jones said, and the shop is taking things day by day.

No positive cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Montana as of Friday. Nationwide, the total number of cases has risen to 1,998, according to Johns Hopkins University, with 43 deaths.

In Billings, the Gainan’s flower shop has also experienced a negative effect from the coronavirus.

“We have had a number of funerals canceled because people are having a hard time getting there,” says Jim Gainan, president of Gainan’s.

Gainan also said that about 50 centerpiece orders have been canceled, and that the coronavirus is definitely having an effect on the business.

With the rise in cancellations and postponed proms and dances, Gainan said customers should know that their orders can be put on hold if the dances get rescheduled or refunds issued if the event is canceled.