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Even if judging only by the sheer number of #ReopenAmerica rallies that were held in state capitals across the country last week, it is clear that Americans have been so devastated by government responses to coronavirus that such “cures” are shaping up to be worse than the very virus itself. Whether politicians like it or not, Americans want to reopen society in some way, even though there is still a threat from coronavirus. The question is not whether to reopen, but when and how to reopen to allow our nation to continue on, while living with coronavirus.
Thankfully, there is great evidence -- the free market -- which informs us that businesses, if allowed by their government to reopen, will do so smartly. Small businesses especially, which employ nearly half of our nation’s entire workforce, are run by some of the smartest, most capable business owners we have. This is simply because they have to fend for themselves in the market, and that requires business practices that are best for their customers in order to be successful.
Right now, employing business practices that keep customers safe and limit potential for the spread of coronavirus are those that are best for customers, and thus best for businesses as they reopen. One can rest assured that those reopened businesses who employ such measures will be successful, and those who do not will face the consequences of the market. No smart business owner would choose the latter.
Therefore, as America turns toward how to reopen “nonessential” businesses amidst the continuing threat of coronavirus, it can draw lessons from those “essential” businesses which have been successful in the past few months at staying open and keeping their employees safe. Take a look at how some businesses have provided a blueprint of how to #ReopenAmerica:
Walmart: The retail giant Walmart has taken a number of measures, which have increased over time, to protect workers and customers as they continue to serve communities nationwide. For example, Walmart is taking the temperatures of associates as they report to work each day, and encouraging them to do this on their own as well. Recently, they announced a requirement for their associates to wear face masks at work. They also continue to reiterate their “6-20-100” guidance, which reminds associates to practice 6 feet of social distancing, regularly wash hands for 20 seconds, and stay home if they have a temperature of 100 degrees or higher. They have also sacrificed a substantial aspect of their business -- being open 24-hours -- to instead close overnight for cleaning to protect customers and associates.
Amazon: Undoubtedly one of the savviest companies in our country, it is no surprise that Amazon has been a leader in smart business practices during the coronavirus. Releasing daily audits of new health and safety measures, they have used the resources available to them to make their policies as widely known and as transparent as possible. They have opened up their businesses and encouraged those who have been furloughed or laid off to join Amazon for the time being, creating 75,000 additional jobs on top of the 100,000 created at the outset of the crisis. While businesses reopening, of course, will not be in anywhere near a similar position as Amazon to hire more employees, they can look to Amazon as a model for how to fill needs around them with the product they do offer, even if that is simply helping the community return to normalcy and the unmistakable embracing of American pride that comes with good, honest work.
The Honeybaked Ham Co.: Ahead of Easter, which is one of Honeybaked’s busiest -- and most profitable -- times of the year, Honeybaked Ham took extra precautions to ensure that customers could continue to enjoy their meals for Easter without fear of being exposed to the coronavirus. Their stores offered carryout as well as delivery services, and created incentives for customers to shop and order earlier, as to avoid unnecessary rush in the days leading up to Easter. Furthermore, their stores implemented heavy social distancing measures including spaced apart registers, floor markings, one-in-one-out flow into the stores, and staff to ensure such measures were being followed. Such a customer-centric approach is a wonderful example for small, especially retail-based, businesses to follow as they reopen.
Undoubtedly, businesses will want to succeed when they reopen, even likely more so than before this pandemic, because those that are still afloat to reopen will be fighting for livelihoods. This means not only the livelihood of the owners, but of the employees as well. Every incentive is in place for businesses to work together with their employees for the safety and protection of them, their customers, and their lives.
Sooner rather than later, our economy must reopen to give Americans this fighting chance to resume the life they know with independence from, not crippling dependence on, government. Our government exists to protect our rights. It is long past time for it to give them back to the people.