A group of small business owners in Arizona has vowed not to reopen their businesses, even though the state has allowed some non-essential services to resume operations. The group announced their decision in a letter posted on the "Too Soon Arizona" website, in which members voiced their concerns about opening the state's economy.
"We are united in our decision to not reopen our dining rooms & shops to the public at this time. It's just too soon," the group of hundreds of restaurateurs, bar owners, chefs, service providers and retailers wrote in the letter. "We're committed to keeping our communities (our employees, our customers, our families) strong and safe."
The group said that like everyone else, they desperately want life to get back to normal. But "things are not normal," the members added.
"Case numbers per day are still rising across most of the nation, including here in Arizona, and lifting the stay-at-home order will cause an acceleration in cases and unnecessary deaths," the letter said.
Arizona has had 11,736 cases, according to data from the Arizona Department of Health Services. A graph of daily cases showed a spike on May 4, but the amount of daily new cases has declined since then.
After issuing a stay-at-home order, Arizona Governor Douglas Ducey issued another executive order on May 4, which stated barber shops and cosmetologists could reopen on May 8 and dine-in restaurants could reopen on May 11, provided they followed safety protocol.
But many, including this group of small businesses owners, argued the growing number of coronavirus cases in the state is evidence that businesses should not resume operations. "We feel proceeding incautiously with the reopening of businesses will worsen human suffering in our communities and prolong the negative impact this pandemic is having on small businesses & the economy," the business owners wrote.
"We await guidance from credible epidemiological experts & researchers for a reopen that is safe for our customers and staff," the letter added.
The letter said that some of the signees will continue offering no-contact pickup and delivery. "All of us will continue innovating for as long as it takes to weather this unprecedented crisis," the group added.
"Please wear masks and socially distance when you visit our establishments, wash your hands often, stay home as much as possible, stay safe and know we will get through this, together," the letter added.
The CDC still recommends that people practice social distancing, wear a mask in public and limit trips outside – including parks, friends houses and stores. The agency also suggests working from home, if possible, and avoiding public transit and ride sharing.
Many local authorities are planning the reopening of their economies and some have already done so. President Trump said in April the administration's social distancing guidelinesor perhaps beyond then, but he has also been critical of stay-at-home guidelines and their effect on the economy.
On Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, expressed his fear that if cities and states do not adhere to the government's guidelines on when and how they can reopen, there could be more COVID-19 outbreaks.
If states don't adhere to federally released guidelines for easing restrictions, "there is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you might not be able to control, which, in fact, paradoxically, will set you back, not only leading to some suffering and death that could be avoided, but could even set you back on the road to trying to get economic recovery,"in testimony before the Senate Health Committee. "We would almost turn the clock back, rather than going forward."