The Business Council of Alabama today launched a campaign against any calls for national economic lockdowns to curb the spread of COVID-19.
“Keep Alabama Open” argues that Alabama is best positioned to make decisions about its own public health and economic decisions. The campaign also has the support of several entities, such as the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama, National Federation of Independent Business, Alabama Restaurant and Hospitality Association, and Alabama Retail Association.
There’s a website, with a logo where participants can download signs and social media profile pictures to show support.
Alabama’s “Stay at Home” earlier this year, during the early stages of the pandemic, wrought severe financial hardships on businesses big and small throughout the state, as did similar orders in the U.S. Prior to March, Alabama had enjoyed record low unemployment. Then, in the space of five weeks, Alabama saw benchmark increases, with more than 406,000 people applying for unemployment beginning in late March.
One advisor to President-Elect Joe Biden was quoted this week as expressing the need for a nationwide shutdown, but Biden himself has appeared cool to the idea.
At a time when COVID numbers are once again surging nationwide, BCA says it is still encouraging Alabamians to follow all health guidelines and orders.
“COVID-19 poses a serious health threat to our citizens and communities,” the organization said in an announcement. “Personal responsibility and buy-in is needed to Keep Alabama Open. This campaign strives to highlight our shared commitment to the rest of the country. Alabama cannot afford to shut down, and, working together, we can save lives and jobs at the same time.”
BCA CEO Katie Boyd Britt said the pandemic’s effects have “stolen lives and destroyed livelihoods across our state, and these next few months will require all of us working together to win this fight.” She also recognized Gov. Kay Ivey for her measures against the pandemic.
“Nothing is more important to BCA than the safety of hardworking families across Alabama,” Britt said. “Now is not the time to mandate a nationwide, one-size-fits-all lockdown; instead, we must each renew our personal commitment to combating this invisible enemy in order to safely and responsibly keep Alabama open.”
In announcing the campaign, BCA drew attention to the need of many Alabamians for health insurance through their jobs, which also provide living wages for families, it said. A shutdown, the organization argues, would produce other adverse health conditions.
NFIB Alabama State Director Rosemary Elebash said in a statement that small businesses account for 99.4 percent of all businesses in the state, and employ 47.5 percent of the state’s private sector workforce.
“Small businesses are determined to get through this, but they can’t keep the doors open without customers,” Elebash said.
Mindy Hanan, president and CEO of the Alabama Restaurant and Hospitality Association, said the National Restaurant Association estimates more than 45,000 restaurants had closed as of September, due to the virus.
“Restaurants and hotels have historically operated under highly regulated safety guidelines and now have taken new steps to meet additional sanitation and social distancing guidelines required by state officials, ” Hanan said. “Our industry simply will not survive another shutdown.”