Opinion: Too many businesses still left behind in state's latest 'turn'

Opinion: Too many businesses still left behind in state's latest 'turn'

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Jasmine Salon & Spa

A sign is posted at Jasmine Salon & Spa, one of several downtown Lake Geneva businesses that have closed to control the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. 

KENOSHA — You might need a scorecard these days to follow the “turns of the dial” announced by Gov. Tony Evers in reopening the state’s economy.

Last week the winners were dog groomers, jewelry stores, small engine repair stores and upholstery stores. And some nonessential businesses could open for curbside pickup.

This week it’s strip mall businesses, allowed to host five customers at a time, and drive-in movie theaters.

All of a sudden, after being closed by the governor’s first "Safer At Home" order on March 25, these businesses have been deemed essential.

Scorecard, anyone? Are you following all of this?

Evers is making these moves as the clock is ticking on his second Safer At Home order, to expire May 26, and facing the prospect that the state Supreme Court may rule any day to overturn it and advance the timeline.

What is going into these decisions?

This week Evers said his ruling would impact about 14,000 businesses and 90,000 jobs in the state. But he stressed there’s “no secret police as part of our administration” that would check up on retailers to make sure they follow the state-imposed limits.

“In addition to added flexibilities and steps we have already taken for businesses, this is another disciplined turn of the dial that will allow Wisconsin business owners to safely get back to work and Wisconsin customers to support their favorite local spots,” the governor said.

Anytime there are winners there are losers, and some businesses remain closed since March 25 under state order. These include hair salons, barber shops, nail salons, and other personal care businesses that employ thousands of people in this state.

And it includes customers of these businesses, by the millions.

Why can’t these businesses reopen to customers who make appointments, come in one at a time and wear masks? Why can’t the staff wear masks and gloves and increase protective measures and cleaning?

It’s likely going to come to that in Wisconsin, but why isn’t it happening now?

Consider that dogs now can get haircuts but people can’t, and the talented people who cut and style hair are told they can’t work.

In case you’re wondering, haircuts are taking place in many states with more coronavirus positive cases and deaths than Wisconsin. In Georgia, salons have been open since late April. And they reopened last week in Colorado, a state hit much harder than Wisconsin.

We don’t profess to understand how these “turns of the dial” decisions are being made. But we think it’s time for the state to get out of the way of these small businesses that have been left dark for two months.

Wisconsin residents — customers — want them, and their workers need paychecks.

This editorial is reprinted with permission from the Kenosha News.

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