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Coronavirus: Central Texas event planner struggling, businesses have mixed success amid large gatherings limit

On Sunday, Pflugerville issued an order to limit gatherings of 250 people or more – following suit with Travis County.

PFLUGERVILLE, Texas — Since January, Laura Luther has seen fewer calls for events to be hosted at Elevated Event (EE) – a venue she opened in April 2019.

Before coronavirus spread across the world, Luther estimated she received 20 calls per day from people asking about hosting events at EE. The inquires ranged from meetings to church services. 

Now, those calls have dropped to maybe three per day, Luther told KVUE.

"The one thing that's really different about this is really the unknown," Luther said.

Luther lived in Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina, adding she has seen other natural disasters warranting supply runs and quarantines for people's safety. She said the coronavirus outbreak has had similar results, but is far different than a hurricane or large storm.

Luther's venue holds about 330 people when it's at full capacity. On a regular Saturday or Sunday, about 200 to 250 people fill the building. 

As Pflugerville limited gatherings of 250 people or more, Luther said those who scheduled events were all of a sudden cancelling them.

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"The cancellations are killing us," Luther said. "Even in the meeting room spaces, people are kind of freaking out." 

Luther is not the only Central Texas business owner seeing fewer customers, either. 

Carla Tuttle, the owner of Texas Ruff House, said her clientele dropped by 75% over the past few weeks. She was expecting to be hired for a number of pet-sitting jobs for spring break, but due to flight restriction recommendations because of coronavirus, many of her clients have rescheduled for an undetermined date.

"We started taking reservations since January and December leading up to March," Tuttle said. "A drop in business does impact us and can carry us on for quite a few months."

On the flip side, some businesses told KVUE they have not felt much of an impact at all.

"For the most part, we have not seen yet a dramatic impact on our industry because we are a necessity," Melanie Knox, the Managing Director for Alden Roofing, said.

Knox believes the long-term effects of the virus will ripple throughout the economy.

"Even if it lasts months, it's still temporary," Knox said. "The effects it can have on the local economy and the local businesses and, in turn, the families can be permanent," Knox said.

Jason Kemp, owner of The Growler Bar & Kitchen, echoed what Knox said regarding a slight dip in customers. All four business owners KVUE spoke with agreed that customers need to continue buying or ordering local.

"We're going to have some change in lifestyle and what happens, but I think, in the long run, everything is going to be okay," Kemp said.

WATCH: Austin event planning business suffering during coronavirus outbreak


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