Hall, Art -- Use this one

Publisher Art Hall

NOTE: The Cape May County Herald is offering full coverage of the COVID-19 / coronavirus emergency to all, with no payment required. We are committed to ensuring our readers can make critical decisions for themselves and their families during this ongoing situation. To continue supporting this vital reporting, please consider a digital subscription. For more coverage, subscribe to our daily newsletter.

Will the beaches open? Will the restaurants open? Will the Amusements open? What will it be like? Will it be like last year, with everything teaming? Will people continue to shy away from one another - while wearing their masks?

From all indications, progress toward our former normalcy will be halting, so we don’t give that virus a renewed opportunity to take us down. Businesses are going to have to re-order things so their customers can stay apart. That will probably mean tables in restaurants will be well spaced, with longer lines for fewer tables. Will restauranteurs have to charge more, to make up for the fewer customers they can accommodate? Will they make up the loss by encouraging people to use their takeout option? No doubt. Dine-in service may become more of a luxury.

What about the beaches, boardwalks and amusements? Because they are open air, we’ll probably feel rather safe while keeping as much distance as possible, but wearing our masks in crowded situations.

As I write this, the sun is shining brightly, and there is a gentle breeze wafting through my office window, making me long for those summer days which that bring an added bounce to our steps and smiles to our faces. 

Overall, will businesses thrive this season? The factors noted above will make things tough; but, on the other hand, cabin fever will make everyone so eager to get out of their confinement, that they may well come in far larger numbers, albeit with smaller wallets. Add to that the fact that people don’t want to fly on airplanes, so we become a natural alternative for those who otherwise would have gone to Europe, the Caribbean, and elsewhere.

So, the question: Is the Cape May County business community going to pull through this? Of course we are – that is who we are, which brings to mind a book by English historian Paul Johnson, entitled “A History of the American People,” which my wife and I recently re-read. Europeans have a reputation for looking down on Americans as being, let me call it, “country bumpkins.”

Not Paul Johnson. While he acknowledges that in England there has been a tendency to disregard us, he holds the exact opposite opinion. He writes, the American melting pot has “…produced the most remarkable people the world has ever seen. I love them and salute them.”  Well, what he wrote was no accident; what the American people have accomplished is nothing short of a phenomenon. Nobody handed it to us. We carved it out of raw materials laid before us, in the face of enormous obstacles.

Rebuilding our Cape May County economy will challenge us, but the people of our county are doers, they are scrappers, and they are up to the task before us. And when we accomplish it, we’re not going to stop there; we’re going to keep on going. Trying times either makes people stronger or it kills them – they are going to make us stronger because that is our nature; that is who we are. 

Now, we have work to do. Let’s get at it.