What’s Needed to Build Pandemic Resilience and Move to Reopening?

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What’s Needed to Build Pandemic Resilience and Move to Reopening? Small Biz Weighs In

Certain foundations and safeguards must be place, a liability shield is not one of them

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Q1 2020 hedge fund letters, conferences and more

In a virtual press call yesterday, small businesses from across the country shared what they need to have in place to even think about the next phase of reopening. From a public health plan that includes adequate testing, to industry specific safety standards, to the child care and paid leave infrastructure to support their employees, small businesses are being forced to consider reopening sooner than is safe because their government leaders have quit the fight.

The job of Main Street now is to adapt, but small businesses can’t go it alone. They need government to do the job of fighting the pandemic while sheltering Main Street and protecting businesses in our hardest-hit communities.

Establishing An Infrastructure For Pandemic Resilience

Though many governors and local officials have acted to slow transmission, our elected leaders -- starting at the federal level -- have not established an infrastructure for pandemic resilience. Our abysmal testing levels are just one example.

"Many of these plans are being laid out under the false choice of rescuing the economy and saving peoples lives," said Amanda Ballantyne, Executive Director of the Main Street Alliance during the call.

To phase in operations, we need a fully-funded and coordinated strategy guided by evidence-based thresholds at all levels of government. Businesses should not be asked to put ourselves, our workers and customers at risk until these common sense measures are met.

See the full set of Main Street's Recommendations for Pandemic Resilience.

Watch the full press call.

Quotes from the Event:

On Liability:

Amanda Ballantyne, Executive Director, Main Street Alliance:

"Reducing employer liability is fundamentally the wrong approach for figuring out how to support businesses through this crisis... It's irresponsible to start talking about employer shields because what we know will happen is that big businesses that have shareholder interest in functioning right now will drive the opening of a marketplace in places that are not safe to open, and there will be forced competition on businesses that are more responsible in their communities and it will exacerbate a public health crisis in an irresponsible and completely unnecessary way."

"We have the resources in our country and our economy to create clear guidelines, and create the support that businesses need to weather this crisis, but we have to have the political courage to stand up and say no, we're not going to pit the economy against the lives our community members."

Tracy Singleton, Birchwood Cafe, Minneapolis, MN:

"If people push ahead when it's really not ready, it leaves the rest of us restaurants paying a higher cost because it's going to make people take that much longer to feel safe to come back."

On Competition:

Aaron Seyedian, Well Paid Maids, Washington, DC:

"We're at a competitive disadvantage. A lot of our competitors are open now. It's creating a situation where small business owners like me, in the interest of public safety, employee safety and customer safety are staying closed and essentially will be punished for it. People with less scruples and are willing to gamble on the lives of their staff are going to be out there gobbling up market share... I don't think that's the thing we should be encouraging through public policy."

On the Future of our Economy:

Aaron Seyedian, Well Paid Maids, Washington, DC:

"The scenario we are lumbering towards is a really scary one, where there's a free for all, a lot of people lose their lives unnecessarily and at the end of it we have a lot of small businesses that shutter and an economy increasingly represented by just a handful of huge companies that have gobbled up the little guys."

Amanda Ballantyne, Executive Director, Main Street Alliance:

"It's in the public interest that we keep our small business sector intact, functioning and able to respond. Without our small business economy we would be living in a hyper consolidated economy and that has tremendous implications for competition and also for democracy."

On Support Needed:

Edgar Comellas, Aces Wild Entertainment, Orlando, FL:

"Every business is going to have to have a new line item dedicated to safety gear, PPE... To expand the PPP to be able to cover some of those costs that are going to be mounting up not just for the next two months but for the length of this crisis up to 6 to 18 months is necessary."

Aaron Seyedian, Well Paid Maids, Washington, DC:

"Small businesses don't have the manpower or the financial resources to make up for the failures of the state."

Tracy Singleton, Birchwood Cafe, Minneapolis, MN:

"I'm not ready to open. I don't feel it's safe to open. I don't have standardized guidelines for what the safety protocol would look like... It's really hard to see a viable future without some kind of support beyond what the PPP is offering."

On Child Care:

Amaryah Pendlebury, Brattleboro's Natural Child School, Brattleboro, VT:

"Small businesses are so important to the American Dream, and child care is right there supporting the working family. One can't survive without the other."

Speakers available for interviews - contact Sarah Crozier - [email protected]