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See the latest news and updates about COVID-19 and its impact on the Charlotte region, the Carolinas and beyond.

Reopen Meck Founder Says Small Businesses Are Priority Ahead Of Uptown Protest

The square at Trade and Tryon streets uptown was deserted during morning rush hour Monday.
David Boraks
The square at Trade and Tryon streets uptown deserted during morning rush hour of the coronavirus shutdown.

Members of Reopen Meck will gather in the streets of uptown Friday to protest the county’s stay-at-home order in place due to the coronavirus pandemic. Maya Pillay, a Davidson College student is the founder of Reopen Meck. She says the priority for the group is to get small businesses back to work.

“They cannot sustain the longevity of the stay-at-home order," she said. "It’s only been a month, and there are businesses that have issued statements saying we cannot reopen. We are permanently closed because in this one month they’ve lost money and have had to lay off everybody. They realized that they could not recuperate from their losses.”

Pillay says she understands the coronavirus is serious and highly contagious. But she believes the response shouldn’t be any different from other public health emergencies the county has faced in the past.

“Ebola, H1N1, SARS, etc. The flu. We didn't bring our economy to a screeching halt when those came through,” she said.

Pillay says Reopen Meck wants businesses to reopen and still follow social distancing guidelines. She also says unlike other Reopen protests, many of her more than 1,200 members will protest from their cars to be safe. 

Health officials warn that reopening too quickly could lead to a surge in new COVID-19 cases.

Mecklenburg County has transitioned from the county stay-at-home order to the statewide order issued by Gov. Roy Cooper that now extends to May 8.

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Sarafina Wright is the "All Things Considered" producer for WFAE 90.7 Charlotte’s NPR Source. Before coming to WFAE, she worked as a political correspondent for EBONY.com, staff writer at the Washington Informer and editor-in-chief of the WI Bridge in Washington, DC. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Howard University. When she's not writing professionally, Sarafina can be found blogging at www.sarafinasaid.com or hanging out with her book club, Charlotte West.