Every Public Official is an Economic Developer Now
I hope you and your families are doing well. All of us who experienced the COVID-19 pandemic panic will remember this for the rest of our lives.
While this has been a significant health event, one that has yet to run its course, it remains to be seen whether this was an epic health crisis or a bad flu season. Either way, the lack of ‘herd immunity’ and a vaccine spurred public health officials and many elected officials to take drastic measures including ordering the closure of ‘non-essential’ businesses.
It’s time to reframe the business and economic discussion from ‘essential vs. non-essential’ to ‘safe vs. unsafe.’ That has been our advice to both state and local officials. In essence, provide more latitude for businesses to figure out how to operate safely, whether the government deems them ‘essential’ or not.
Yesterday afternoon, Governor Polis held a lengthy press conference at which he discussed ending his state “Stay at Home” order on April 27th to transition to a “Safer at Home” approach that continues social distancing, encouraging mask wearing and limitations on public gatherings.
Per our state lobbyist Sandra Solin, here are some aspects of Safer at Home:
- Retail stores will be able to re-open for curbside delivery and phased-in public opening with strict precautions.
- Non-essential (editorial comment: I hate that word) offices will be allowed to be 50 percent open, though telecommuting should continue to be maximized,
- Large workplaces are advised to have symptom and temperature checks, though telecommuting should continue to be maximized,
- Child Care facilities will be allowed to reopen with certain strict guidelines
- Elective medical services/dental will resume with strict precautions to ensure adequate PPE and ability to meet critical care needs,
- Personal services (salons, nails, massage) will resume with strict precautions,
- One-on-one real estate showings will resume. Open houses are still prohibited.
Bars and restaurants will remain closed, open only for takeout and delivery, while they explore phased-in reduced capacity opening. The Governor suggested that restaurants may be able to open in mid-May but this is still undergoing consideration. Public gatherings will remain limited to no more than 10 people. Sick people may not go to work. Coloradans are still encouraged to stay at home except when absolutely necessary.
Additionally, he is giving significant discretion to local governments to monitor and gauge their own process to reopen.
In that regard, we have been in touch with local officials. Our request is that they don’t make local ‘reopening’ rules any more complicated than the state’s
Our request: while thinking safety, open the economy as fast as possible by shortening the phases being proposed. Rather than dictating all of this, give some discretion to businesses to figure out how to keep their employees and customers safe.
A final thought on all this command-and-control by government regarding the economy and business: Government put the brakes on business and the economy; now it has an obligation to step on the gas. As the health crisis wanes, for the foreseeable future the focus is on getting people back to work. Now all public officials are economic developers.