To the Editor:
I was at home for almost three months, without work, and it was not a happy time due to the ongoing pandemic.
In New Jersey, the unemployment rate reached 15.3%, in April, according to NJ.com (https://bit.ly/30kA8nw), due to the temporary closing of the businesses and establishments that helped put food on the table for these people.
The article stated, “The jobless rate is the highest since record keeping began in 1976, the state labor commissioner said, and exceeded the national rate, which hit 14.7% in April. A staggering 38.6 million people across the nation and 1.1 million in New Jersey have filed claims for unemployment benefits since the start of the public health crisis.”
With the pandemic crisis at its peak, it was difficult for people to apply for unemployment and receive approval in the state.
I work for a small business, one of the best bed and breakfasts in Cape May. When the stay-home order hit, it was truly an awful experience, as every family of the business was directly affected by the pandemic's aftershock.
The whole nation was in economic meltdown and all kinds of businesses, especially small businesses, were affected. However, when the government started to open the states in phases, they introduced a Small Business Administration loan, also termed the Paycheck Protection Program. Its main target is to help businesses, especially small ones, to keep their workers/workforce employed during this crisis.
When my boss called me and asked if I was able to work, I was reluctant at first. Without a cure, I felt as if something was stopping me from leaving my home, since opening the business is also risking the chances of infection.
It is important to look at the human costs rather than the economic costs. Reopening businesses aids the declining economy, and even though health experts warn us of the dangers of reopening the nation sooner, if proper precautions and meticulous planning are done, one can avoid being infected with the virus.
In other words, without strict health and social distancing, reopening the nation will possibly be more dangerous.
My employer had plans regarding the control measure for virus spread. After considering the safety measures taken, my perception changed, and I agreed to return to work.
We are strictly practicing social distancing. I appreciate all the help my bosses are doing to make us comfortable amid this crisis.
Since there is an expansion in testing, we must rapidly improve treatment options.
Now, due to the pandemic, a lot of businesses must remodel their strategies of operation so they can operate. There must be a reasonable compromise, a reasonable mix of pace and degree of opening coupled with the loosening of social distancing and wearing masks at work.
When reopening, businesses must be prepared to ensure the public health and a balanced economy. Each state or locality will have to make local decisions and make sure of the epidemiology and economic impacts.
I am lucky that I can work in an environment where proper safety precaution is adopted. However, there are a lot of other companies that are unable to restart their business, and the promise for employment for their employees is still vague. All businesses should have the opportunity to incrementally bring back employees.