'We're out of money:' Bar, gym owners in dire stress with another Phase 2 extension

The last time small business owner Zack Medford served a drink at his bar was March, just before St. Patrick's Day.

Some of the beer has expired by now and will need to be tossed in the garbage. It'll be at least another five weeks before taps can flow again and any cash can come in.

Governor Roy Cooper announced Wednesday he is extending Phase 2 yet again.

Medford isn't surprised, but says it'll take years to dig himself out of the COVID-19 hole and he's not sure how much longer he can hold onto the businesses.

"We're out of money. We can't pay rent anymore. There's no money for it," he said. "We got PPP loans, but those were only made to last eight weeks and money is long gone. We're out of options. We're just living off credit cards now to try and pay our personal bills, let alone the bills for our bars."

Gyms are also being impacted and we've already start seeing some fitness centers close.

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There are more than 1,000 bars across North Carolina and 1,000 plus health clubs, according to the latest data. Both business sectors are prohibited from reopening.

Two college students are trying to help and set up a fund raising thousands of dollars.

The pair is partnering with advocacy group Black Dollar NC to distribute the funds to suffering small business, especially ones that are Black and minority-owned.

"We have to, as a community, rally around behind those small businesses and help them as much as we can," said organizer Yusuf Ali.

Medford argued the governor should be offering the same kind of financial support, considering he's the one who keeps hitting the pause button on Phase 3.

"If you're going to force 15 percent of an industry to stay closed, while allowing 85 percent of their competitors to stay open, you gotta come up with some way to help them survive. Some kind of relief plan. Some kind of grants. Some kind of real help for these businesses. Loans are not going to cut it, because we're never going to be able to make that money back, let alone to repay them," said Medford.

If you're a small business owner interesting in applying for fund being administered by Black Dollar NC, click here.

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