HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) — As of midnight on Tuesday, April 7, grocery stores and restaurants across the Buckeye State have to determine and enforce the maximum number of people allowed in their stores, post those restrictions on their doors, and make sure customers waiting outside are staying at least 6 feet apart.

“Protecting ourselves, protecting other people, protecting our customers; that’s good business, that’s what we should be doing,” said Bill Bissett, President and CEO of the Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce.

With the economies being so interconnected in our Tri-State area of Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia, Avinadan Mukherjee, Dean of the Lewis College of Business at Marshall University, says anything a community can do to keep small businesses alive is incredibly critical at this time.

“Otherwise, the local economy is going to suffer a big time,” Mukherjee.

Mukherjee says 1 in 4 businesses have already closed either temporarily or permanently throughout the country. He expects another 25% to do the same by the end of April.

“At the moment, it’s a supply-side shock,” said Mukherjee. “This is like an earthquake, this is to some extent, it’s like a 9/11 of our economy.”

Looking around the downtown areas of our communities, seeing all the empty space and ‘closed’ notices, it’s clear the local economies are on the ropes.

“We’ll probably lose 50% (of our businesses), but the other 50%, if we can save them and redraw the new economy around it, I think we’ll be able to come back,” Mukherjee said.

“It is not going to be instantaneous, and some businesses are going to restart much faster than others,” Bissett said. “If you’re a restaurant, you’re going to have to order food and supplies, you’re going to rehire people that have been laid off.”