‘New normal’ cannot mean a closed economy

Finally, after weeks of forced shutdowns amid a worldwide health crisis, retail establishments and other businesses began reopening this week in deliberate progression.

Retailers inside the Eastwood Mall Complex and Southern Park Mall opened Tuesday with new health guidelines. Likewise, downtown business establishments like jewelry stores, clothing retailers and other small shops welcomed customers back.

Mahoning Valley pet owners eagerly visited groomers to have their dogs’ nails clipped and fur trimmed.

Coming Friday, sit-down restaurants with outdoor seating, hair and nail salons, tanning facilities and other less “essential” operations will reopen.

Tuesday, we learned tattoo parlors and massage and cosmetic therapy businesses also may reopen Friday with proper safety protocols.

Indeed, the progress is slow but steady.

Still, as Ohio and the Mahoning Valley move with pronounced fashion into this phase of recovery, we hear panic and pushback from many who fear we are moving too fast.

Yes, during past months, people have been seriously ill, and others, sadly, have died as a result of COVID-19. Every life is precious, it goes without saying. Every life lost to the coronavirus is a tragedy.

However, Ohio is emerging from this health crisis in many ways better than some nearby states. We attribute that largely to the calculated approach to this pandemic and leadership offered by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton. Together, they have offered credibility, knowledge and leadership.

No one — including Gov. DeWine — wants to see Ohio experience a dreadful setback of a new coronavirus outbreak, and so we must follow his guidance and move forward with great care in a measured manner.

The key, however, is that we move forward, returning to a sense of normalcy.

A popular buzzword today has been a description of this pandemic as “a new normal.”

If “new normal” means wearing a mask to shop at local retail stores, standing in line for a purchase with 6 feet between customers or getting your temperature taken before entering a restaurant, then so be it!

But unequivocally, “new normal” cannot mean living in fear of ever leaving our homes. And it cannot mean that our economy remains shut down indefinitely. Getting back to work is crucial. Ongoing and record unemployment in Ohio and our nation is unsustainable.

We all are eager to get the state’s economy moving again, even if that comes with deliberate progression. We must be careful, use precautions of social distancing and personal hygiene that have been preached to us for the last several months.

But we must be able to do it in an economy that is open for business.



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