Opening Up Local Business

Updated: Sep 22

In this age of Covid-19, everything is uncertain. Social norms change with breathtaking speed and we are often left scratching our heads, trying to understand what just happened. Nearly everyone agrees something had to be done when the mysterious pandemic roared around the world, and the second spike in coronavirus cases was alarming, but recent restrictions do not make sense.

Prohibiting large groups may be a credible response to reduce virus transmission, but closing all beaches, parks and trails was never going to slow the spread. After, he said, giving it a lot of thought, the Mayor opened parks, but only to individuals. No families, couples, parent and child, roommates, or friends would be allowed to walk together across the sand, through a park, or along a trail; no more than one person at a time, even if they live together.

While the parks restriction was roundly panned as ludicrous, there was less public outrage about the second shutdown, which has been particularly harsh on hundreds of “non-essential” businesses who barely survived the first lock down.

In March, we learned Flatten the Curve, the policy of managing infection rates to not overload the healthcare system. Today, it seems many people never heard, or forgot, the second part of Flatten the Curve theory: a flatter curve assumes the same number of people will ultimately get infected, but over a longer period of time. This is going to take longer than we hoped.

A couple months ago, I bought a new tennis racket from a small shop on the second floor of a walk-up building on King Street. The proprietor allowed only one customer, masked, in the store at a time. This shop is no threat to public health, so why is it closed?

Why must small, independent businesses remain closed while big box stores are deemed essential? Why can’t you buy flowers from a florist, furniture from a furniture store, a surfboard from a surf shop, or a watch from a jewelry store, but you can buy all of these at a mega store while mingling with hundreds of other shoppers? What is the special danger these local businesses pose to society compared to “essential” businesses?

Recent changes at the Department of Health indicate they are finally serious about managing the contact tracing and testing programs. The federally supported surge testing confirmed the virus is not out of control. We know the importance of mask wearing, social distancing and frequent hand washing. Scary as this may be to some, we must learn to live with the virus as it will not disappear anytime soon.

All businesses should soon be allowed to operate with appropriate Covid policies.Some may warrant extra oversight and limitations.If there is an identified Covid cluster, a business should be shut down for deep cleaning and an inspection before re-opening.Repeat incidents might result in longer closure but should not be reason to shut all other businesses.If people choose to remain home, that is their prerogative; but the time has come to give local businesses a chance for survival. Let them open up for willing customers.


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