By Carolyn Wooddall
In order to keep Solvang as a Coranavirus free place, Solvang city administration is closely monitoring the situation. As of right now, the Solvang Library and all schools are closed, with additional events canceled until April 15th. However, the Wednesday Farmers’ Market will remain open.
Due to recent travel restrictions, Solvang has already lost Asian visitors, who comprise nearly 30% of visitors. Now with the current state of emergency and country declarations, Solvang economy — including 13 hotels with nearly 1,000-bed capacity, and nearly 300 retail stores, shops restaurants, and wine tasting rooms — is struggling. Luckily March is still considered part of the “off and rainy season” for Solvang’s tourism.
Solvang Mayor Ryan Toussaint issued a public announcement regarding the support of local businesses during these uncertain times.“As a community, those of us who are healthy enough to go about our daily lives with minor interruptions should make an extra effort to support local businesses at this juncture,” said Mayor Toussaint. “Many of our restaurants are offering take-out to-go or delivery options, in lieu of hosting guests in their dining rooms. Some of our grocery stores are also offering delivery services, for those who prefer not to shop in-store. Your patronage will make all the difference as we weather this storm, in an attempt to incur the least amount of economic impact as possible.”
To help support local businesses, the city is working on its own program to provide financial support as part of a relief effort for Solvang’s businesses. This week, Mayor Toussaint will be attending the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG) meeting to discuss the topic of how to sustain the County’s tourism economy during these uncertain times.
Solvang Retailers Association President and local businessman Esko Kenny Lama suggested that the city should focus on federal and state financial grants as well as no-interest, long-term loans to help local businesses. Additionally, the city should allow stores to display their merchandise in front of stores and on patios to allow for outdoor shopping, should a patron not want to shop inside.