As of 12 a.m. Tuesday morning, March 17, Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards ordered all restaurants, bars and movie theaters in the state to close temporarily amid the Coronavirus threat. The order lasts through April 13, though it seems likely that closures could be extended weeks, if not months, beyond then. Here in New Orleans, where the hospitality and tourism industries dominate, the closures are sure to have a particularly colossal impact on the economy. Tens of thousands of people in the city – restaurant workers, bartenders, musicians, gig workers, freelancers – face a rough road ahead. Many don’t know how they’ll make rent next month or pay for groceries. In this moment of uncertainty, New Orleanians must come together and support one another. If you have the capacity to do so, there are many ways to financially support local businesses and self-employed folks during the pandemic.
Give to Artists and the Arts
In New Orleans, we cherish our local musicians. Unfortunately, as a result of business closures, musicians will be hit particularly badly in this pandemic. For many of our city’s talented musicians, gigs are their primary source of income. To support your favorite local artists, check their Facebook and Instagram pages and see if they’ve posted their Venmo or Cash App info so you can donate to them and help support their living expenses.
Make sure to check out the locally-founded Sofa King Fest, “an emergency response online music and arts directory aimed to minimize your COVID-19 quarantine boredom, while providing a platform to raise money for artists, crew, and music industry professionals affected by this pandemic.”
Visual artists need support, too. As museums and galleries shut down, visual artists whose livelihoods depend on residencies, leading workshops, and sales of their artwork will need to find alternative sources of income. Reach out to the artists you follow on social media and ask if there’s anything you can do to support them, such as purchasing from their online stores. If you’re an avid museum-goer, consider making a gift to The New Orleans Museum of Art, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, or the Contemporary Arts Center.
Tip Livestream Concerts
Many local artists are starting to livestream sets on Facebook. Check your favorite bands’ Facebook pages to see if they have any upcoming livestream concerts scheduled. What could be better than enjoying a crowd-free concert from the comfort of your couch that you can pause at any time? If you were going out, you’d be paying a cover charge at the door and/or dropping a buck in the tip jar after the show. Treat livestream shows the same way you would a live show by taking advantage of artists’ virtual tip jars via Venmo or Cash App.
Order Take-Out or Delivery
Now that dining-in is no longer an option, most restaurants will limit their services to take-out and delivery only. Now is the perfect time to order in Chinese. Chinese restaurants all over the world have experienced a slowdown in business since the coronavirus first appeared in Wuhan, China. This includes a lot of small, often struggling, family businesses.Top local picks include Five Happiness (3605 S. Carrollton Ave), Ming Garden (1151 N. Broad), New China Restaurant (1885 Rousseau St), and Hunan Wok (2201 St. Bernard Ave). And if you choose to use the delivery services Postmates or Uber Eats, make sure to give your delivery person a generous tip.
You can also take advantage of local grocery delivery services, like Dat Grocery Delivers and Groceries 2 Geaux Nola. Grocery delivery helps ease congestion in grocery stores and eliminates the risk of going out for vulnerable populations. And, of course, tip your delivery person well.
Buy Gift Cards from Local Restaurants
Now is a great time to buy gift cards from local restaurants. During this time of social distancing, neighborhood eateries still need to pay their employees. Buying a gift card allows you to invest in a future meal while helping your favorite restaurants make end’s meet in the meantime.
Shop Local Stores Online
Social distancing may likely do wonders for online shopping. Consider making online purchases at local clothing stores, artisan shops, and record stores. Check out this GO NOLA list of the best shoppable websites in town.
Digitally Tip Bartenders
The ghost town-effect of the virus is going to hit bartenders’ bank accounts really hard. Thankfully, Nolatipparty.com is building an ongoing list of bartenders and their Venmo accounts. It’s a living document, so if you have a favorite bartender that’s not on the list yet, send their name and Venmo to [email protected] and they will be added to the list.
Take Online Yoga Classes
Magnolia Yoga, Swan River, Free to Be Power Yoga, Balance Yoga & Wellness, Wild Lotus, and Laughing Lotus have all announced they will be offering virtual yoga classes. Check out their online class offerings and make a plan to keep yourself physically active during self-quarantine.
Donate to The New Orleans Business Alliance
The New Orleans Business Alliance has announced they are “working with public and private partners to ensure that New Orleans residents have access to all available resources to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.” They are launching a relief fund to meet the needs of gig workers who are being directly impacted by the outbreak. Consider making a donation to their relief fund here to help them reach their goals.
Join the Mutual Aid- New Orleans Facebook Group
The Mutual Aid- New Orleans group was started for “members of the New Orleans service industry, retail workers, musicians, teachers, and other jobs that have been affected by COVID-19.” The group encourages the offering of free goods and services.
If You Have a Platform, Promote Local Freelancers
If you have a large social media following or a blog, promote self-employed New Orleans who may be out of work due to the pandemic. This includes musicians, photographers, writers, dancers, comedians, visual artists, actors, palm readers, and any other struggling freelancer.