With Everyone Aboard, We Can Get Through This
By Mike Moser and Chris Brown
In June, we penned an editorial asking Wyomingites to take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 so Wyoming businesses can remain open.
Although many sectors of the economy have been negatively affected by the pandemic, some of the businesses we are honored to represent, including restaurants, bars, lodging and clubs, have taken among the worst of the economic damage.
There is only one way to avoid additional restrictions in Wyoming. Start voluntarily. Those who don’t want to wear face masks and practice social distancing for themselves should do it for others.
Although we have a number of counties mandating mask usage, compliance with those health orders is often spotty at best. We do not want to force elected officials and health professionals to take additional action, but our carelessness may force their hand, at either a county or statewide level.
We had anticipated five months ago the likelihood of a second wave of COVID-19. We were wrong. This isn’t a wave, it’s a tsunami. And this tsunami threatens to engulf many of those businesses that have managed to survive thus far as well as the wellbeing and lives of our fellow Wyomingites.
Wyoming has thus far been fortunate by having some of the fewest restrictions in the country. Put into perspective, 35 states, in addition to the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, currently require people to wear face coverings in public statewide, according to a list maintained by AARP. Utah and North Dakota joined the list in recent days and more are sure to follow.
Although we have fewer restrictions than the significant majority of states, the negative impact on Wyoming businesses and our employees is greater due to the high percentage of small businesses, particularly in the hospitality industry. Many of those businesses are holding on by a thread and will not survive another shut down.
Although we understand the possibility of further restrictions in this COVID-19 tsunami, we don’t want to see it happen.
Perhaps some individuals feel masks and social distancing are unnecessary. We suppose, this decision is their right. But, we represent industries whose employees have been taking precautions for months now, including wearing face masks every shift.
We want to keep our businesses, and our employees want to keep their jobs. Please help them do so.
Follow the safety guidelines for most wait staff who need their job to keep food on the table for their kids, for the clubs, which includes veteran’s organizations, who are struggling to keep the lights on and for the bar or restaurant owner who sees the spike in COVID-19 cases and knows they can’t make it through another shutdown.
In closing, we thank everyone for their business. Whether it’s takeout, a socially-distanced restaurant meal or a beer with friends, we deeply appreciate Wyoming’s support for our small businesses.
Just one major thing – face masks and social distancing aren’t nearly as oppressive as businesses closing and employees losing jobs. We’re looking toward the finish line when a widespread vaccine will come available. But for now, please help us stay in business.
Mike Moser is the executive director of the Wyoming State Liquor Association and Chris Brown is the executive director of the Wyoming Lodging and Restaurant Association.