Spokane Journal of Business

Commentary

It’s no time to let up on our resolve against COVID-19

The timing of the latest four-week, statewide COVID-19 restrictions ordered by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee couldn’t be more devastating to some of our struggling businesses.

As we enter the holiday season, we’re all being asked to sacrifice more to slow the spread of the pandemic. Simply put, this is no time to let up on our resolve to defeat this virus.

Whether or not we agree with the governor’s new restrictions, they are driven by the reality of worsening case numbers, a spike in hospitalizations, and a climbing death toll.

While we were hoping since last spring for a quick victory, the virus isn’t going away. So, until vaccines are available, we also have to learn to co-exist with the virus, with a joint determination to minimize exposure and risk in all settings, both business and social.

At the same time, the governor should be sensitive to the needs of the private sector and recognize that business owners have proven to be effective at implementing preventive measures. Inslee should endeavor to maintain a balance between public health interests and the economic consequences that come with shutdowns and the arguably more weighted impact they have on our most vulnerable socioeconomic classes.

Fortunately, the new restrictions don’t lock us up as tightly as the original “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order. It shows we’ve made some progress in incorporating workplace health and safety measures on a scale unprecedented in rapidness and scope.

Construction and manufacturing industries, for example, are still open under ongoing Phase 2 safety requirements.

The governor’s most recent proclamation is most restrictive on restaurants and bars, fitness facilities, bowling centers, and theaters, which are closed to indoor service. In-store retail is limited to 25% of indoor occupancy.

The new proclamation also includes restrictions on professional services. Office workers and professionals are urged to work at home whenever possible, with only 25% capacity of personnel allowed in some office settings.

Just as we’re being asked to follow the science in the effort to slow the pandemic, we should expect the same from the governor. Businesses now are paying the price for a surge in COVID-19 cases likely exacerbated by private and social gatherings that haven’t adhered to masking and social distancing protocols.

The governor hasn’t made it clear whether the most recent data shows the virus is being spread through all business types facing the new restrictions.

Regardless, we must maintain vigilance to guard against the virus by following safety protocols to keep people working where possible while reducing risk to life and health.

For now, those of us who have a choice should work from home when possible and limit trips to necessary outings.

We can help employers through this time of sacrifice by eating, shopping, and conducting business with a local emphasis.

We all must also do our part to make safe and responsible choices in family and social settings. The most effective behaviors we can do right now to slow the virus are to continue wearing masks, washing hands, and keeping socially distanced from others.

We’re still all in this together. And together, albeit at the proper social distance, we’ll beat this pandemic.