I was dismayed to learn that the Wisconsin Tavern League put a proposal forth to open their businesses across Wisconsin on May 1. All of us appreciate the financial hardships that businesses and employees are facing during this pandemic. But it is also essential to appreciate that only data-driven recommendations and medical guidelines can be used to determine when businesses can reopen in our state. Just because a special interest provides a great deal of campaign cash does not make them medical experts during a pandemic.
There is no doubt the tavern industry in our state has incredible economic clout. The sales from restaurants and bars pour $10 billion into the state’s economy. No one is denying how many people this industry employs nor how much of an investment the business owners have put into their various establishments. But at this point with a pandemic wreaking havoc there has to be a recognition that the financial bottom line of the tavern industry is less important than the lives of the citizenry. In fact, when compared to life and death their profit or loss does not matter at all,
It has been stated over and over that we must first see a 14-day downward trajectory of influenza-like illnesses and COVID-19 symptoms being reported in the state before we open businesses. In addition state health officials are setting a goal of 85,000 COVID-19 tests per week, averaging roughly 12,000 tests per day. In addition to expanded testing, health officials will be increasing contact tracing in an effort to track the spread of the coronavirus. That is a most critical aspect of the plan.
This testing regiment must be operating at the time we reopen as it is an essential step to take so to allow for faith to be created in workers about the safety of heading back to the workplace, and for customers who at some point will start to head to restaurants and movie theaters. Without broad-based testing and the data which will result, there is no way for the economy to be lifted up in a manner that is very much needed.
We must not ask employees to go back to work, or encourage customers to again consider shopping in stores, watching a movie, or heading to a hair salon until there is data to support such action.
The most salient argument for opening businesses after the medical data supports such a move is to ensure that there is not an increase in virus cases to the point that we need to again shut down the state economy. If that were to happen it would send a most severe body-blow to the business community, and it would frighten customers to the point that when the state would reopen (yet again) there would be little faith that employers could keep workers and customers safe.
There’s is one chance to open up businesses safely and do so in such a way as to gain the trust of the citizens. Prematurely popping the top for the Tavern League before state leaders and professionals deem it appropriate would lead to more virus cases, deaths, and even more business closures.
This idea from the Tavern League is not yet fully brewed.