Lincoln and North Woodstock share many things, including an ambulance service and a school district.
And with the coronavirus and the need to stop its spread, the towns are also sharing the misery of Sunday’s closing of Loon Mountain, as well as Gov. Chris Sununu’s Monday decree to limit restaurants to takeout and drive-thru service.
Scott Rice, founder of the Woodstock Inn Brewery and a selectman, pointed out Monday that with such a small population, “take-out is not practical” in the town.
Rice has 130 employees, about 120 of which will be laid off as a result of Sununu’s order, he said.
When Loon closed, “We were down 50 percent,” said Rice, adding that the governor’s order was a further blow.
“Our employees are going to be pretty devastated,’ Rice said. “We’re going to keep up their benefits while we’re closed and help them collect unemployment, but it’s not good.”
“I’m lucky that I’ve been in business for over 30 years,” said Rice, adding he has already spoken with his bank about the situation.
At Tuesday’s meeting of the board of selectmen, Rice expects a vote will be taken to close town offices “for at least two weeks,” with some employees told to work from home.
The public can reach the town during regular business hours via telephone and email, he said.
Chris Clermont, who has owned Wayne’s Market in North Woodstock for 20 years, said the loss of business from Loon patrons is “big” on his daily bottom line but “on the weekends, it’s huge.”
Clermont said in speaking with customers and colleagues, the biggest fear is of the unknown.
Clermont is also concerned about what would happen if he laid off any of his dozen employees as Memorial Day approaches.
“It’s going to be really difficult to get them to come back” given that unemployment is very low in the area, Clermont said.
Charyl Reardon is president of the White Mountains Attractions Association, which represents 17 major attractions and over 300 business members. She said in an email Monday: “We can’t really predict the actual impact to our area because we truly don’t know the how long the situation will last.”
She said between 2017 and 2019, there was an annual average of $160 million to $170 million in spending by approximately 210,000 visitors.
“The White Mountains Attractions and our businesses are committed to doing everything we can to ensure the safety and health of our employees, communities and visitors,” said Reardon.