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Businesses are cautiously optimistic as LSU anticipates mostly normal operations for fall semester

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BATON ROUGE – In six months, LSU’s campus could return to full parking lots and a crowded quad.

Interim President Tom Galligan anticipates the vast majority of classes will return to in-person learning for the fall 2021 semester. It depends on the vaccine roll-out to going as planned and enough students and staff getting the shot.

For businesses, the lax restrictions would mean more customers inside their shops.

“I honestly can’t wait until we can start seeing more students in here,” City Slice manager Loni Trabeaux said.

The lack of students currently on campus, due to a hybrid course schedule for some, has a trickle effect on the north side. The storefronts there are normally booming with business.

“Pre-COVID, we had a large group of students on weekend nights. And we had a live band on Friday nights,” Trabeaux said.

City Slice has gotten by through to-go orders during the pandemic, but Trabeaux says it’s not the same.

“Is that really what a restaurant is all about? It’s definitely to see people come out and enjoy themselves, have a cocktail and have a dinner with their friends,” she said.

The Bicycle Shop on Highland also depends on people wearing backpacks wandering inside after class.

“That was extremely low this past year. In fact, our biggest season is the back-to-school time in August, and back-to-school was kind of nonexistent this year,” owner Tom Townsend said.

Townsend says his business has been hit with a double whammy: fewer customers and a backlog of inventory.

“Repairs can sometimes take months because we’re waiting on parts,” Townsend said.

That’s why the anticipation of an LSU semester looking like it did pre-2020 is giving businesses a glimpse of hope. They crave that hustle and bustle again.

“That would be great,” Townsend said.

Right now, higher education is not one of the tier groups eligible for the vaccine. LSU hopes it will be in the near future.

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