Businesses in downtown Richmond have mixed thoughts on whether to remain open Monday

Downtown businesses prepare for planned protest

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The high alert and early planning for a planned protest at the Capitol Building finds downtown businesses scrambling to make a decision on whether they will keep their doors open on Monday.

Not many gun rights advocates are pleased with Governor Northam’s decision to ban weapons during a Second Amendment rally Monday where some 10,000 people are expected. Those tensions find business owners left with a mix of emotions.

“I’m just a little bit on edge about this being a state of emergency with them coming,” Trey Owens said. Owens owns Soul Taco on East Main Street. His employees plan to be here when the protest happens just down the street from their restaurant. ”I just hope that nobody comes here with any bad intentions,” Owens said.

Officials say many of the protesters are planning to come from outside of Virginia to join with those fighting gun restrictions.

“I think it’s good for people to come out and show their rights,” Tom Kirkland said. Yet, he doesn’t plan to be at his business. A sign is already in place to greet customers. ”They’re going to try to get in the store and say ‘well the roads are blocked up’ and that’s going to turn them away,” Kirkland said.

"One concern is that if things did get out of hand down here that kind of gives license to some people to just start looting,” Kim Kirkland added.

The fears aren’t phasing workers at Sefton Coffee. "I mean if there are that many people, I hope I sell some coffee,” Jennie Skinner said.

She does plan to set some ground rules. "I think I’m going to do something where there’s no weapons or signs inside just because it’s a small space,” Skinner said.

Authorities visited businesses Thursday to alert them of the potential of crowds and what they can do to stay safe.

"A lot of people have been told to work from home because it's going to be so many people down here,” Skinner said.

While some are waiting to see what Monday will bring, others just won’t chance it.

"I will be here slinging tacos,” Owens said.

"We'll be back Tuesday,” Kirkland countered.

No parking signs are going up in portions of downtown near the Capitol Building.

A nearby business is offering its parking lot for a staging area for authorities who will be working to keep the peace.

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