What Does It All Mean?

With some jurisdictions prepared to partially open in stages, what does regular business look like now?


At least some barometer for the staged re-opening of economies comes from New York State, with New York City the so-called epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States. The order for stay at home officially lasts until May 15, at which time it expires.

According to reporting in the New York Times, based on modelling by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and charts by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the daily death toll in America will rise to 3,000 deaths a day, which would be double the rate today. One wonders about the kinds of mixed messages we’re getting.

What we see is that people really aren’t very patient as we enter the sixth week of quarantine. No doubt, everyone wants to get back to ‘normal’, though we are also told there is a ‘new normal’ we need to accept and get used to. What that new normal is, is anyone’s guess.

In New York, there are four factors that guide the timing of region-by-region staged opening of the economy, on our way back to our regular commercial habits: availability of testing, contact tracing, hospital capacity and monitoring of virus transmissions.

Businesses there will open in stages, starting with stage one construction, manufacturing, and curbside pick up for some stores. If the numbers don’t spike, more staged openings of professional services and retail, stage two, restaurants with social distancing, stage three, and finally, stage four, some sporting events.

Governor Cuomo has said, “We need businesses to re-imagine how they’re going to do business, and get ready to protect their workforce.”

Many businesses are wondering just that: How do we re-imagine how to do business?

Good question.

Experts in virology and public health are doing their best to inform the public, even while there is massive political and economic pressure to re-open economies fully. But, one wonders, if the experts are calling for a doubling of the daily death toll by June 1, whether we are impatiently rushing ahead of reality, even while we wish things to return to ‘normal’ as soon as possible?

The public in general gets a lot of mixed messages, and not everywhere is at the same stage of viral spread as another place, yet. Reports are coming back that Italy, Germany, and other developed western countries have drastically underreported their cases. And this goes for places like Vietnam, North Korea, Russia, and China, too. What the real count for coronavirus cases is anyone’s guess. But with people flying across their own countries and still others flying internationally, there is little doubt that we will see new waves of this as things remain virtually unchecked.

So, what to do and what to think? Not only have people come through a massively stressful time of layoff and furloughs, those layoffs and furloughs continue unabated. Some industries seem not to have slowed down very much, like construction sites in Canada. Many people outside carry on as though nothing has happened, unmasked, not abiding social distancing rules, not tested, and going about their business as usual. It’s a strangely un-uniform time, with some people abiding by shelter-in-place orders while others flaunt it without a care in the world. With others, in small groups, even picketing government offices and the homes of government officials.

According to a new poll by The Washington Post and University of Maryland, “74% of Americans said they were opposed to reopening dine-in restaurants and nail salons in their states. More than 8 in 10 Americans (82%) said movie theaters should not be allowed to reopen in their states. Gun stores, barbershops and hair salons, retail shops and golf courses all received a majority “no” vote on whether they should be allowed to reopen.”

No one wanted this. But here it is. And while I am normally not one to play it too safe, since fortune favors the brave, in this case the victories might go to the most patient among us.

Patience is also a virtue we could use more of these days.

What do you think about opening the economy in your area of the world? How is the pandemic affecting your business? We’d love to hear from you.

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