Nome’s bars will remain closed for the holidays. That’s following a 5-1 vote by the Nome Common Council on Monday. Under the current plan, bars would be able to reopen on January 4th – at the earliest. Restaurants are expected to remain closed until next Monday (Dec. 21) , along with a restriction on public gatherings of over ten people.
Only Councilmember Jennifer Reader rejected the closures.
The measures and closures are meant to slow the spread of COVID-19. But recognizing the economic hardship for business owners and those working in the service industry, they’ve agreed to provide a $600 weekly stipend for those affected by the restrictions. That vote did pass unanimously. Nome City Manager, Glenn Steckman, says the funds will come from the city’s share of federal pandemic relief received under the CARES Act.
“This program is to help those folks that have been impacted by a decision to close down a particular industry.”– City Manager Glenn Steckman
To qualify for the full $600, service workers– including taxi drivers — would have to work at least 20 hours a week. Those that work less, could be eligible for a $300 weekly stipend.
The payments are expected to last for five weeks.
In that same resolution, the common council also approved a plan to offer relief to owners of bars and restaurants affected by the pandemic. A formula based on 2019 revenues could offer up to $10,000 per business.
Still to be worked out is the application process. Councilmember Mark Johnson urged the city staff to expedite that process as quickly as possible.
“Most of these people are missing this paycheck right now around this time because we’ve been closed for three weeks.”– Councilmember Mark Johnson
The Council also voted to grant another $60,000 of federal pandemic funding to Nome Public Schools. The funds are to hire part-time staff to assist with a rapidly expanding homeschool program and additional plexiglass shields in the elementary cafeteria and classrooms.
Image at top: Nome’s main thoroughfare, Front Street, May 2013. Photo: David Dodman, used with permission.