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HomeAlaska BusinessTo shut down, or not to shut down.

To shut down, or not to shut down.

To shut down, or not to shut down.

William Shakespeare’s opening phrase in Hamlet isn’t just about Prince Hamlet and his contemplation of life, but also alluding to unfairness in society.

By Frank Dahl

December 1, 2020

William Shakespeare’s opening phrase in Hamlet isn’t just about Prince Hamlet and his contemplation of life, but also alluding to unfairness in society.

Can commerce, education, and even community spirit survive when elected and appointed officials strip us of rights and freedoms? What exactly is the policy these days, relating to COVID and life activities?

To shut down, or not to shut down.

It’s particularly difficult to keep up with the latest rules and seldom do they seem fair.

A recent New York Times article reported the mayor of New York City has heard from parents “loud and clear” and decided to open schools again. Mayor Bill de Blasio advised the media that NYC “would abandon a 3 percent test positivity threshold that it had adopted for closing the school system, the largest in the country, with 1.1 million children.”

Also see: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/29/nyregion/schools-reopening-partially.html

The New York Times added “Mr. de Blasio is reopening elementary schools even though the city’s seven-day average test positivity rate on Sunday had climbed to 3.9 percent — well above the former threshold that led him to close the system on Nov. 18 as a second wave of the outbreak threatened the city.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who has often clashed with Mr. de Blasio over the response to the pandemic and has final authority over how schools operate during the crisis, said on Sunday that he supported the mayor’s plan.”

This change of heart on classroom attendance comes after months and months of a “Close, close, close!” mentality.

I sure hope De Blasio and Cuomo convey a mea culpa to President Trump and the majority of the nation’s GOP members who urged to re-open schools months ago.

Meanwhile, many school districts are still closed, or closing, throughout the nation. In Alaska, opinions conflict on editorial pages, some suggesting online class is a disaster and making kids and parents stir-crazy, while others are self-anointed harbingers contending in-person classrooms might spur the end of humanity.

While left-leaning and alternative publications urge a new round of shutdowns, and the pandemic-deniers invoke conspiracy theories, the rational-minded Americans conclude there’s efficacy in middle ground.

In Arizona, where my wife and I own a ranch, University of Arizona researchers believe the state’s current surge in COVID-positive numbers “will present the state with a hospital crisis that could become a disaster unless the state takes steps such as ordering a three-week stay-home shutdown and implementing a statewide mask mandate.” https://apnews.com/article/health-south-korea

In California, a record number of cases is inducing its largest cities, Los Angeles and San Francisco, to enhance restrictions.

 

To shut down, or not to shut down.Meanwhile conservative states like Texas, Oklahoma, and Florida are, more often than not, deferring to local policymakers with a watchful eye on possible broader mandates because of public discord.

It’s a dizzying spectacle of restrictive policies and rules that’s nearly impossible to keep up with.

In Anchorage, where I’ve also resided for over 45 years, Acting Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson ordered a December 2020 shutdown of indoor drinking and dining. Her edict, effective today, is not only devastating but detrimental to the economy and job market. Imagine suddenly losing your income over the holidays. Now consider your reaction to this ordered by an appointed mayor who wasn’t elected.

The hospitality industry’s trade association, Alaska CHARR, recently distributed its newsletter warning “Our industry knows that a third local government shutdown during the holidays will force more people to gather in unregulated, unsupervised, and unmasked spaces, which will undoubtedly exacerbate the spread of COVID-19, rather than prevent it. Hospitality establishments are highly-regulated, supervised places with countless safety measures and rules in place to protect our guests. Most of you have seen on-premises sales continue to decline each month because fewer people are visiting our establishments.”

As a long-time businessman, employer, parent, and grandparent, it’s clear we’re facing numerous moving parts. If someone doesn’t want to patronize a shop or travel on a plane or work in a restaurant fearing contagion, then don’t! We all have choices. I personally believe we need to get kids back into classrooms, keep businesses and churches open, make mask-wearing and online conferencing optional, and critically assess who needs governmental grants and financial support. Let’s also monitor abuses of financial pandemic programs. Hybrid models of operation and education need to be adopted, but not a complete cease and desist order.

If we don’t get our community and economic engines rebooted, more than just jobs and education will be at risk. The data surfacing includes a massive number of COVID-positive Americans who are doing just fine, without any complications, post-COVID. As one COVID-positive friend in his 60s put it, “It was like having a hangover for a week.”

At the time of this writing, December 1st, Alaska reports 32,407 cases and 115 deaths. Many of the deaths were in conjunction with preconditions, not just from COVID-19. We also have one of the highest per-capita testing rates in the nation along with North Dakota and Rhode Island. This is because of, in large part, healthcare providers like Capstone Clinic and its COVIDSecure app technology which expedites test results and communications between employers and employees. You’ll see them in most airports, by example. These are healthcare and entrepreneurial successes, not a foundation to close down.

To shut down, or not to shut down.The best news is vaccinations are imminent, with Pfizer, Moderna, and Oxford-AstraZeneca hopefuls soon to be released and administered within the next two months. Again, thanks to President Trump and his leadership of, and incentives offered to, pharmaceutical companies.

There is hope. We will survive this pandemic and be the stronger for it.

And to Hamlet, and his poignant soliloquy, I respond:

No more closures! No more shutdowns!

How soon can we get America open again?

THAT is the question.

It's Time to Support the Hospitality Industry

Frank Dahl has owned bars, restaurants and lodges throughout Alaska and in the Lower 48 for over five decades including Blues Central at the Chef’s Inn. As the founder of Anchorage CHARR and a former Board Member of Alaska CHARR, he has been active in hospitality and tourism industry policy development for years. He is a member of Rotary and recipient of an Alaska Legislative Citation for Public Service.

To shut down, or not to shut down.

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