Minnesota’s Economic News — W/E 12/3/21
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Nobody has said that reopening the economy will be a quick path to recovery but it sure is a good start for most businesses. We can all agree that the service industry even though it stood to lose from the coronavirus, has been more hurt by the heavily mandated one size fit all lockdowns and the way they have been imposed.
The restaurant industry has especially been hard-hit by the uncertainty surrounding the length of the lockdown order. There have been so many changes made to the stay at home order since it was first introduced on March 18th to selected establishments. Restaurants and bars were the first to cease dine-in operations.
Governor Walz announced on May 20th that restaurants, bars, barbershops, and other establishments like saloons and breweries can open on June 1st with limited capacity. Establishments would also have to follow distancing measures, as well as some health requirement guidelines.
This would all be good and well if this announcement did not come with heavy-hitting restrictions that would make operations outright unprofitable or impossible for some businesses. Diners and restaurants, for instance, will only be allowed to do outside seating, and hair and nail salons will only open at 25% capacity
Many restaurants owners see Wednesday’s rules as another obstacle, as they have already been working around the clock to be ready to reopen. Allowing only outdoor seating was something many had not expected.
There are definitely costs associated with the decision of whether to reopen or not. Keeping the economy closed is costly. It has already resulted in the permanent closure of a significant number of small businesses, permanent loss of jobs as well as a significant loss of income to individuals and the economy. Economic activity has contracted significantly all around the globe.
Keeping the economy closed might additionally eventually cost lives as I illustrated either through increased deaths of despair or due to health implications from unemployment and poverty. But there is also a possibility that reopening might delay eradication of the disease and therefore prolong recovery.
Either way we look at it, the lockdown cannot go on forever. That would be economically disastrous and may also not eradicate the disease. But the current reopening plan does not give much hope to most businesses. Given that Minnesota has managed to achieve the goal of increasing state capacity and delaying the case peak, these services should be given more leeway in performing their services.
And considering the fact that in Minnesota Covid-19 deaths have been concentrated among the elderly and those living in Long term care facilities, reopening operations further should not pose a huge risk. In as long as the state can continue to focus testing as well as isolation efforts among the elderly as well as residents in long term care facilities.