BEAVER COUNTY (KDKA) — It was a busy day on Friday in Beaver County as businesses began to reopen for the first time in nearly two months.
“This is kind of a sink or swim situation for many of us on whether or not we can survive,” said Cindy Split.
Split has owned Split Personality Consignment for the last seven years, but the business first opened in downtown Beaver nearly 27 years ago.
She tells KDKA survival is the driving force behind her decision to reopen despite the fact that Beaver County is still in the governor’s red phase.
“It was kind of an apprehensive decision do we or don’t we, but ultimately you have to do it at some point so why not now,” Split said.
The District Attorney and County Commissioners put their support behind the local businesses that decided to reopen. The DA’s Office announcing that it would not prosecute any business for violating the shutdown order.
Several community members and business owners gathered outside the courthouse on Friday to show support for the local elected officials.
“It’s about time, people are tired from being home, they are hungry, people are bored and we all need haircuts,” said Janet Kennedy.
While local leaders are operating as if the county is in the yellow phase, some business owners made the decision to stay closed.
“It’s still a scary place to be as a business owner, I don’t want to get in trouble and I don’t want to be part of a problem,” said Cheri Henney.
Henney moved from South Jersey to open her social art studio Burgundy and Brushes in Chippewa. She said at first she tried curbside take home kits, but the governor’s guidelines for who could operate kept changing. In the beginning of April, she decided to close for a few weeks and has not reopened.
Henney tells KDKA that her business is in the gray zone and based on the reopening phase descriptions, she didn’t know when she would be able to get back to business.
“It could be four, six, eight weeks or even the end of the year before I am allowed to reopen as the business I was,” Henney said.
The future unknown led her to make the decision to close her doors for good.
“It’s pretty tough, we have good days and bad days,” Henney said.
WATCH: KDKA’s Nicole Ford Reports Live From Beaver County
As the rest of the Southwest region moves to yellow, Governor Tom Wolf announced Friday that Beaver County will follow and move to yellow on May 22.
“We are looking at the data and Beaver County is doing much better, which means that the virus has less of a chance this week then it did last week of actually infecting people,” Wolf said.
The Governor’s Office received pushback from local county leaders last week after he said Beaver County would stay in the red because of the evolving situation at Brighton Rehab and Wellness Center.
Since that announcement, the state appointed a temporary manager and deployed the National Guard to the nursing home facility to help get the COVID-19 outbreak under control.”
“The data is what is driving these decisions, politics have nothing to do with this,” Wolf said.
KDKA talked with Commissioner Daniel Camp about the developments for Beaver County.
“I think he’s heard our community’s voice. We couldn’t sit back and watch our small business community die,” Camp said.
Camp tells KDKA that he believes when the time comes for the region to move to green that Beaver County will be included.
“I think he sees how important it is to have a regional approach and not isolate a county as our bordering states open and drive business away from our local economy,” Camp said.
Over the next week, the Board of Commissioners plans to work with the business community to educate the owners on the differences between the red, yellow and green phases.