Local businesses denied unemployment amid COVID-19 pandemic

Published: Mar. 31, 2020 at 10:49 PM CDT
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Local businesses have closed their doors amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

They are no longer receiving income and many are turning to unemployment, unsuccessfully.

Enlightened Beauty closed its doors on March 18 in hopes of keeping both staff and clients safe.

The salon’s owner, Kayla Bartholomay, says this was a difficult decision made even more challenging as self-employment is currently not being covered under unemployment.

“I got, it’s called an incident report,” said Bartholomay. “I’m waiting in line to be called back to see when self-employment will be covered for us so basically it’s just a waiting game.”

Businesses have been told that a federal pandemic unemployment compensation program is coming, but Bartholomay says it isn’t available yet.

“Hopefully our government, our state government, our federal government, it’s all going to pull through,” Bartholomay said. “But it’s all sort of the unknown.”

This leaves some business owners and self proprietors without support.

“I feel for our industry right now with all the different avenues that people play in,” Bartholomay said. “It’s not just us self employed. There’s other people out there like tattoo artists, photographers.”

Sarah Waldoch is a licensed massage therapist and has been self-employed for 17 years.

“There’s no income coming in,” Waldoch said.

Like Bartholomay, Waldoch turned to unemployment but she was also denied.

“They are not set up and they keep on telling us to contact them in a few days and it will be up and running,” Waldoch said. “Well we’ve contacted them in a few days and we’re still not up and running. You know you are misled. You are told to do something, so we all did it and its another wall.”

For many, they have hope that relief is coming, but they want to know when it will become available to rid of feelings of uncertainty.

Governor Doug Burgum told Valley News Live that new legislation passed has flexibility including people who are self-employed.

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