Yesterday we noted the varied approaches states are taking to re-open their economies. Notably, no one is flipping the ‘on’ switch; all are taking measured approaches, although the pace differs considerably from state to state. Washington remains committed to a cautious approach. As The Seattle Times reports, that strategy has the support of Seattle business leaders.
Seattle’s business leaders voiced support Wednesday for Gov. Jay Inslee’s cautious approach to reopening the state’s economy, while saying the business community should play a key role in crafting policies.
“Our state has shown remarkable progress in bending the curve,” said Markham McIntyre, executive vice president of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. “Now, we need to direct the same level of focus to a smart and safe reopening and recovery.”
Inslee, in televised remarks Tuesday, unveiled a roadmap that soon could allow return of some elective surgeries, outdoor recreation and certain construction projects, as long as progress continues in the fight against COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Other restrictions, such as social distancing, would remain in place under the stay-at-home order set to expire May 4.
Jon Scholes, president and CEO of the Downtown Seattle Association, endorsed these moves. “We should look at allowing specific sectors that pose minimal health and safety risks to move forward with clear guidelines,” Scholes said, adding that this will mean fewer people will need unemployment benefits and economic activity will increase.
The Seattle Times also reports on growing impatience with the lockdown.
Republican leaders began to increase their pushback to Gov. Jay Inslee’s “stay-home” order on Wednesday, even as public health officials continue to say that social-distancing measures are crucial to keeping the spread of the novel coronavirus under control.
On Wednesday, the Republican leader in the state House of Representatives, who’s been supportive of Inslee throughout the crisis, announced his frustration and said he would begin objecting, in some instances, to Inslee’s executive orders. Meantime, the GOP-backed sheriff of Snohomish County announced he would not enforce Inslee’s stay-home directive. A Republican candidate for governor sued Inslee in federal court, arguing the order violates First Amendment guarantees of religious freedom, assembly and free speech.
Uncertainty is a factor for some.
House Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm, said he was disappointed that Inslee, in his speech Tuesday night, didn’t announce a schedule for when restrictions would begin to be lifted, nor did he say what specific metrics he would be consulting.
The Seattle business leaders clearly share concerns with how and when restrictions can be lifted, businesses re-open, and people get back to work.
The Chamber, which represents large and small businesses around the region, is working on ideas that it hopes can support a public-private partnership to safely grow the economy, said Alicia Teel, the organization’s vice president of marketing and communications.
Scholes, in his comments, said, “Just as when you are a patient in the hospital following a major procedure, you of course want to get out as fast as you can and get home. But we don’t want to put ourselves in a situation of leaving too soon only to have to return.”
With unemployment soaring, the tension between impatience and safe return to work is understandable. Fortunately, as the Washington Research Council writes, another federal aid bill – pending action in the House – will provide essential additional support to small businesses.