MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -Between the pandemic and civil unrest, Madison business owners say they’ve taken a beating this year. A new surge in local COVID-19 cases is now presenting new challenges.

Wednesday, Dane County public health officials warned downtown Madison regulars to assume they’d been exposed to the virus and begin monitoring for symptoms.

The warning comes after a new surge in 19 cases, most linked to UW-Madison’s campus.

Scott Chalmer, CEO of Chalmers Jewelers on East Washington says since then, customers have cancelled appointments.

“This particular location is getting a real big beating with everything going on,” said Chalmer. With a Middleton location as well, this business has a deep history in the local community.

With 28 years in business, Chalmer says this year has been unlike any other. From being forced to close for months at the start of the pandemic, to becoming a target of vandalism and looting during recent unrest, Chalmer says things have been difficult.

“My windows are boarded up, my door smashed in, this isn’t the normal Chalmers Jewelers for the last 28 years,” he said.

Chalmer says he doesn’t want the virus concerns surrounding the UW campus to further devastate small businesses in the community.

“Businesses all over the state of Wisconsin have been hit really hard by not only COVID but things going on in Madison and Dane County in particular,” said Peggy Gunderson with Strategic Brand Marketing and the Wisconsin Small Business Regulatory Review Board.

Gunderson says most of the financial assistance is running out and local businesses need consumers to stay loyal.

“If we continue to hit the shop button on Amazon and other online larger merchants, these local businesses won’t exist...they want be here when we need them,” she said.

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