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BCA’s Katie Boyd Britt spearheading ‘Keep Alabama Open’ campaign as other states shut down

The Business Council of Alabama (BCA) on Tuesday launched the grassroots movement to “Keep Alabama Open.”

The new campaign, which was announced in a press release, comes in opposition to recent public calls for a nationwide mandatory shutdown, which would come from the federal government if instituted.

In the organization’s release, BCA outlined that it fully supports the State of Alabama’s ability and right to manage its own affairs when it comes to the public health and wellbeing of our people.

The release noted that throughout the pandemic, Alabama business owners and workers have worked diligently to follow State Health Orders and best practices when it comes to keeping customers and themselves safe, while continuing to earn a living and support their families.

“Nothing is more important to BCA than the safety of hardworking families across Alabama,” stated Katie Boyd Britt, BCA president and CEO.

“As this year has already shown, Alabamians are at their best when overcoming adversity,” she continued. “COVID-19 has stolen lives and destroyed livelihoods across our state, and these next few months will require all of us working together to win this fight. Now is not the time to mandate a nationwide, one-size-fits-all lockdown; instead, we must each renew our personal commitment to combatting this invisible enemy in order to safely and responsibly Keep Alabama Open. BCA commends Governor Ivey and her administration for continuing to exercise thoughtful leadership in this unprecedented time.”

Governor Kay Ivey’s administration has proven that the State of Alabama is perfectly capable and willing to make the tough decisions needed to save lives and livelihoods, utilizing Alabama solutions tailored specifically for our unique situation and needs, BCA’s release underscored.

Through Keep Alabama Open, BCA aims to unite hardworking Alabamians in the earnest pursuit of protecting jobs and safeguarding self-governance.

The message is simple: Alabama is best positioned to make decisions for Alabama.

BCA encourages Alabamians to follow all health guidelines and orders. The organization explained that COVID-19 remains a serious health threat to our citizens and communities and that personal responsibility and buy-in is needed to Keep Alabama Open. The nascent campaign spearheaded by BCA strives to highlight our shared commitment to the rest of the country. Alabama cannot afford to shut down, and, working together, we can save lives and jobs at the same time, BCA wrote.

One underreported facet of the pandemic highlighted by BCA is that many Alabamians depend upon their jobs for their health insurance and the means to support their families: to feed them, pay for medical treatment and medicines, and provide shelter. Ultimately, a shutdown could not only put Alabamians in severe financial distress, but it could also produce adverse health outcomes, even deaths. This threat is particularly acute to small businesses in the Yellowhammer State, BCA’s release outlined.

Britt also emphasized that BCA is proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with fellow pro-jobs advocates at the outset of this campaign, including the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama, National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), Alabama Restaurant and Hospitality Association, and Alabama Retail Association.

Jeremy Arthur, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama, said, “As we have seen throughout the pandemic, businesses have found ways to innovate, allowing them to safely and responsibly keep their doors open for business. The Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama is excited to join BCA in the effort to ‘Keep Alabama Open,’ ensuring those businesses and families can continue to prosper in the great state of Alabama.”

NFIB Alabama State Director Rosemary Elebash commented, “NFIB is pleased to join the ‘Keep Alabama Open’ campaign to encourage Governor Ivey and elected officials to let businesses continue to operate as long as they continue to follow public health guidelines to protect their customers and their employees. Small businesses are determined to get through this, but they can’t keep the doors open without customers. Small businesses account for 99.4 percent of all businesses in the state and employ 47.5 percent of Alabama’s private-sector workforce. When we help small businesses, we help everyone.”

Mindy Hanan, president and CEO of the Alabama Restaurant and Hospitality Association, stated, “Restaurants and hotels have historically operated under highly regulated safety guidelines and now have taken new steps to meet additional sanitation and social distancing guidelines required by state officials.”

“As Alabama’s second largest employer it is important to us to Keep Alabama Open and its citizens employed. The National Restaurant Association estimates over 45,000 restaurants had closed due to the virus as of September. Our industry simply will not survive another shutdown,” she added.

Rick Brown, president of the Alabama Retail Association, also emphasized the critical nature of this campaign.

“Alabama retailers have been devastated during the ongoing pandemic, and a shutdown would wipe out countless local, community-oriented retailers throughout our state who are working day in, day out to keep their doors open as it is,” he advised. “Our members are proud to be operating as safely and responsibly as possible to support their employees, customers, families and communities. With the Christmas season quickly approaching, now is the time to Keep Alabama Open and shop local – not lockdown.”

Members of the public wanting to Keep Alabama Open are encouraged to join the movement on social media, as well as with new window signs and bumper stickers.

Learn more on the campaign website here.

Tuesday’s announcement comes after states such as California, Washington, Nevada, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon and Vermont, as well as cities such as Chicago and Philadelphia, have chosen to impose new shutdowns or partial shutdowns on their jurisdictions.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn