Jobs are waiting, but some Chattanoogans hesitate to return to work during COVID-19 crisis

Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter / Antonio Bettini, an employee at High Point Climbing Gym, at his home on Tuesday. Bettini is worried about returning to work because of the coronavirus pandemic.

As businesses gradually reopen and ask their employees to return to work, they are finding that some would rather not because of the ongoing global pandemic - at least, not yet.

"I don't think it's a good idea to be opening this early," said Antonio Bettini, a route setter at High Point Climbing Gym who said he received a text on April 22 instructing him to return to work to prepare for a May opening. "Just based on the nature of the business, this is not a good idea."

Bettini said his immediate supervisor left him with the impression that he would be considered a voluntary resignation if he did not return, and would no longer be eligible for unemployment. But High Point co-owner John O'Brien said the gym will be using federal Paycheck Protection Program funds to pay furloughed employees, and they'll have a job whenever they are ready to return.