Businesses Reopen With New Expenses: Protective Equipment

While South Florida is back open for business, NBC 6 Investigators report new rules are increasing costs, and some owners say they don’t know who to turn to for help.

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 The new normal in South Florida comes with additional costs for business owners. 

Among the new rules is the requirement to wear masks and other personal protective equipment. Many businesses did not budget for the new gear and are now scrambling to purchase large quantities.

“I have no words to describe those two months. They were two stranger months," Precile Lozama, the owner of PI Beauty Express in North Miami, said while reopening her salon Wednesday after being closed for months.

Lozama, a cosmetologist for 30 years, says she had to buy isolation curtains to keep her clients ten feet apart. 

She is still waiting to find out if she’s approved for a loan from the Small Business Administration (SBA). But Lozama says the new requirements are running up costs.

“More expensive,” Lozama said.  “Everything runs up.The price on everything runs up.”

Before the crisis, a regular mask was usually around $1, but Lozama says that’s not the case anymore. 

“$5, yeah! Because it’s a necessity now. It’s a necessity. And you have to buy it, regardless of price,” Lozama said.

Precile Lozama says she had to buy isolation curtains to keep a safe distance between her clients.

The NBC 6 Investigators surveyed businesses in South Florida about the challenges they face to reopen and several mentioned the new regulations. 

A finance company cited limiting hours and keeping employees a minimum of six feet apart. A hotel owner said the new rules are “very hard” to implement. 

Another business that sells personal protective equipment wrote distributors like FedEx and UPS are “not keeping up” with demand.

NBC 6 Investigators took those concerns to Victoria Guerrero, the SBA's South Florida District Director, to see if they plan on helping with personal protective equipment.

“At the moment, as far as SBA is concerned, I haven’t seen anything in regards to that,” Guerrero said.

Guererro says additional money for protective equipment could come from the next recovery bill lawmakers are debating in Congress. In the meantime, she says the agency does have free business consulting and existing loan programs that could help.

“If they want to purchase equipment for their existing business, we have a loan program for that. We have several, several services that we offer to our small businesses throughout the year,” Guerrero said. 

Miami-Dade County is giving out some personal protective equipment through their “Back-to-Businesses” boxes, but not all businesses qualify. Eligible businesses had to be in the county for two years, make less than $250,000 a year, and have less than ten employees.

In North Miami, Lozama eagerly waits to find out if more help will come to her business. She also hopes people will feel safe to get a manicure or get their hair styled in her salon.

“I invest with whatever I have just to let everybody know that we are following the guidelines and it is safe to come to PI Beauty Express for your services because we got it,” Lozama said. “We got it.”

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