Tuesday, May 12, 2020 / by Jenny Carroll
While this is the Bastrop Chamber President speaking about reopening Texas in the face of COVID, it's a great article for all of us during this unusual time. It's a reminder to be patient, to be kind, and most of all to be diligent in our safety practices, for all our sakes. As our great state reopens for business, stay safe out there. - Jenny Carroll | Stanberry Realtors
Opening Texas for Business
For 6 weeks, I have been saying we needed something to look forward to in the way of a date for reopening so we could get the economy going again. In our previous disasters you could see the physical damages, but not with COVID-19. With fires, we got updates on the percentage of containment or you knew how long it would take flood water to recede in order to start the mucking out and rebuilding process. We finally got our something to look forward to on Monday, April 27 when Governor Gregg Abbott announced his phased approach to Reopening Texas for Business. Phase One began on Friday, May 1st. It was exciting to see some “OPEN” signs starting to appear in our community, but we are not out of the woods yet! If the curve flattens, we hope additional openings will begin after the Governor’s next scheduled announcement on May 18th.
Reopening Texas for Business and getting back to what I am sure will be our “new” normal is going to take some time. Our business community will take seriously the operational changes and staff training needed to reopen safely and use the minimum standard health protocols set forth in the Governor’s Report to Open Texas. In this first phase, remember our restaurants are only allowed 25% capacity at this time. As a customer, we need to be patient and respect this plan for the safety of us all. Please continue to tip big as these servers will not be able to turn the number of tables they are accustom to. From the restaurant owners I have talked to, they are following the Texas Restaurant Promise from the Texas Restaurant Association. The “promise” is to ensure everyone’s safety as they welcome you back into your favorite restaurant dining rooms again.
Retail business owners are also nervous and concerned but ready to welcome their customers back. The fear is customers will not return and support them after being closed for weeks on end. These local business owners are the ones that support our local charities, fundraisers, and sponsor children's sports leagues. We hope that you will go back and shop locally, wear your face coverings for safety and help them feel like normalcy and hope is returning. Returning to these local businesses will be good for your mental health and is wonderful retail therapy too after weeks at home. I learned one thing during these stay at home orders; I was not cut out to ever homeschool my kids.
There are also supply chain disruptions. Just like when COVID-19 hit in mid-March, there were items hard to find at our grocery stores due to panic and hoarding. It is going to take time for the items you love to return to the shelves of our local merchants. It may take months to get the things you are used to buying like a favorite coffee blend, bottle of wine, or maybe a spice. In some cases, it may not be the same staff at your local shops due to various reasons. Support these local merchants anyway by buying another similar product, good or take an appointment for service with that new staff person. Ladies, it might be a new nail tech or hairdresser. To avoid the real damage to our local business community we have to support one another and maybe do something new.
We hope that you feel your Bastrop Chamber has supported you during this time. Since the beginning of the stay at home orders, the Bastrop Chamber has worked to develop a Business Resource page on our website, disseminated information on SBA and PPP loans, created a Restaurant TO-GO Guide that was updated as needed, posted Employment Opportunities for our members that are still hiring at this time, worked with the OEM to distribute information, had 4 webinars with our fellow county Chambers and did a video series from our Board of Directors with words of encouragement to our business community and social media followers. I even went to New Heights to paint a billboard for the second time in 2 years, this time on two sides to get the message out to #stayhometexas. Our staff has never worked so hard for you.
We understand the impact COVID-19 is having on our local business community and the challenges this poses for you. Your membership is crucial to our Chamber and we rely significantly on member investments to carry out our mission. During the past 6 weeks, some of you had a “Chamber-versary” or others have one that is approaching. You may be finding it financially difficult to renew your membership. Please consider staying with the Chamber and contacting us about one of our three (3) membership payment options. The Board of Directors and staff strongly believe it is important to the vitality of our members and our Chamber to offer these options during this time. We have set up payments for some members already and are happy to help you if needed. Thank you for making the Bastrop Chamber part of your considerations going forward.
Next month we will be talking about gearing back up with our Luncheons programming, celebrating your businesses with Ribbon Cuttings, scheduling our Alive After Five, and restarting our Educational Opportunities. We cannot wait to fill a room with people excited about Building a Better Bastrop. I miss each and every one of you dearly. This staying apart has been hard on this hugger!
Virtual Hugs once again,Becki Womble, IOM
(Shared with Ms. Womble's permission)