The first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, a scant seven-plus months ago, seems so long ago now. As the initial panic melted into resolve, at least around these parts, the rate of new cases began to ebb, although the virus itself always lingered in the background.
It was replaced at the forefront of our minds as summer dawned with new challenges before slowly slipping further forward again as the nation’s failure to confront the pandemic accompanied a second spike.
As the nation enters November – with a referendum on what sort of nation we wish to be on the ballot next week – there’s a sense of despair as COVID-19 cases are climbing at levels not seen since those early few months.
Holidays loom. For most, they are times of family solidarity and joy – loved ones crowded into small bungalow living rooms amid twinkling lights to share the gift of another year together and cherished traditions.
All the while, we’re wrapping our heads around how this year will be different. Family celebrations placed on hold, gatherings delayed. It’s almost enough to make you want to give up.
But, we can’t. That resolve we experienced in April and May, that sense of community-mindedness and regard for others is something we need to find in ourselves again.
For the first time since late June, local businesses are again feeling the squeeze. Restaurants and bars – for who knows how long this time – will be unable to open their doors for indoor dining and drinking.
Some have honed their takeout/curbside operations to help them subsist, but this is going to be a truly difficult and harmful period for these businesses.
Municipal governments are stretched to the limit, with their own revenues having taken a hit from the fallout of COVID-19. But, we think it appropriate, even necessary for local governments to do what they can to help local businesses who have had to close their doors through this period.
That might be, as Riverside did earlier this year, waiving liquor license fees for now. Those are typically very expensive, and rightly so, but a bar or restaurant being able to save a few thousand dollars when their income has been throttled back might buy some time.
Perhaps a moratorium on collecting business license fees or suspending the local places for eating and drinking sales tax on a rolling basis might help. Of course, that is going to affect the ability of local governments to deliver services.
It’s going to be a balancing act, but a mass failure of local businesses is in no one’s best interest.
The first few snowflakes fell across the area early this week, a sign that winter is coming fast.
As citizens, if we want to make sure local governments and business can fund themselves, we have to do our part to control the virus. We have to find that resolve and when those businesses can open again redouble the discipline to make sure we don’t slip back.
This isn’t punishment, it’s patriotism.