Small business owners say paying rent will be challenging during COVID-19 pandemic

With businesses shut down, some owners are worried about paying the rent.

International Drive is usually booming with business, but now it’s desolate with no customers in sight.

"It’s that uncertainty that causes me the most loss of sleep," said Thomas Kerr, who owns ICEBAR Orlando. "In times like this you’re concerned about the overall survival of the business. That includes rent."

Over at  Wildside Clothing, owner Shami Karamchanpani says he plans to pay his landlord half his rent now and the rest later after his loan is approved.  

"I have already applied for the SBA loan for Wildside Clothing and we hope to get aid soon."

According to the Small Business Administration,  $349 billion has been established for a paycheck protection program.

Mayor Jerry Demings encourages businesses to apply for federal assistance,.

"If they’re able to apply for the loan assistance through the Small Business Administration, perhaps in terms of their budget, that budget will then free up dollars if they get dollars coming in to free up payroll. That will free up dollars for them to pay the rent."

Kerr said, "We’re working with Florida Disaster Assistance Emergency Bridge loans, which those are collected with the programs offered by the SBA."

He says he’s considering all his options.

"I kinda wish it was a hurricane because then we could watch it on the radar and see it come and leave. Where this one you can’t see it and there’s no real dependable timetable on when this will end," Kerr said. 

As he struggles to make ends meet, he gets teary-eyed talking about his employees.

"Letting them down is one of the toughest challenges that I’ve had," he said. "I just pray for things to get back to normal."

For more information on how to apply for an SBA loan, go to