Republicans in the state House of Representatives are urging Governor John Carney to accelerate the reopening of the state’s economy.
The 15 member House Republican Caucus wrote Carney saying he should allow non-essential businesses to reopen given their implementation of safety practices to reduce the risk of COVID-19.
The letter said that after 49 days of the governor’s state of emergency restrictions, they “can no longer be silent” regarding the mounting economic toll on their constituents.
“Each of us has been in contact with hundreds of anxious citizens, small business owners, and non-profit organizations that have all but exhausted their resources,” the letter read.
The tone and urgency of the House GOP’s letter was reflected in an economic town hall hosted by state leaders with Newark-area businesses last night. In the call led by Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long and top economic officials, small businesses from barber shops to bars and restaurants to retailers said their survival depended on reopening as soon as possible.
Many on the call voiced confusion over criteria and timelines that would allow their reopening, and others said they could accommodate safety measures to protect their staff and customers.
Caucus member Rep. Mike Ramone, said “the business people will enforce the rules more than anyone else. So will their customers. We all need to be part of the solution. Let’s work together and start firing up the businesses.”
Below are selections from the House GOP letter – the full text is available here.
- Each of us has been in contact with hundreds of anxious citizens, small business owners, and non-profit organizations that have all but exhausted their resources. More than 75,000 Delawareans have filed for unemployment benefits since March 15th. Many have yet to receive their first check. Thousands of additional independent contractors and self-employed individuals will not even be able to apply for such benefits until May 11. Vast numbers of Delaware businesses, even those allowed to operate under the State of Emergency, are struggling to stay viable.
- Research conducted by the JPMorgan Chase Institute shows that 50 percent of small businesses are operating with fewer than 15 “cash buffer days” — the number of days a business can pay its typical expenses out of its cash balance, while generating no income. We are seven full weeks into the current economic disruption.
- After seven weeks of tracking COVID-19 information, we now know it poses the largest danger to several well-defined groups. Of the total deaths linked to the novel coronavirus in Delaware thus far, all but eight had underlying health issues, 61.1% resided in long-term care facilities, and more than 90% were senior citizens.
- Like other viruses of the past, it is unlikely we can ever fully eradicate COVID-19. Fortunately, treatments are emerging, and vaccines are under development. However, even the most optimistic projections indicate significant quantities of an effective vaccine will not be available until at least September.
- Our citizens, small business operators, and non-profit groups cannot afford to remain in forced stasis indefinitely. The clock is quickly running out.
- For many, it is already too late. Some business owners will never reopen their doors, with the jobs they provided permanently lost. Our economy is likely to emerge from this shutdown under recessionary conditions and it will take months for momentum to build and for the public to be willing and capable of engaging in commerce anywhere near pre-pandemic levels.
- We need to restart our economy now in a way that responsibly manages risk; allows businesses to resume operations under protocols to curtail the spread of the virus; and provides our citizens and businesses with a predictable path forward that allows them to make plans on which they can act.
- This need not be a binary decision. We can continue to take action to mitigate the spread of the virus; institute aggressive steps to protect those groups most at risk from severe consequences of infection; and allow citizens and businesses to return to work in a responsible manner.