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Carl: Reopen Alabama

Alabama led the space race. We led in bringing jobs like Mercedes and Hyundai to our state. Now, it’s time for Alabama to lead the nation again by reopening our economy and getting Alabama and America back to work.

During the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, Alabamians learned the importance of staying home and practicing common-sense hygiene as well as social distancing to flatten the curve. Since then, we have seen tremendous progress – our hospitals are operating below capacity and the number of new cases has been on the decline. While we are not yet out of the woods, we are certainly headed in the right direction.

Thanks to Governor Ivey, steps to reopen Alabama begin May 1. This is encouraging, but there is more we should be doing. For the past month, large retail stores and national chains have stayed open and busy while our small businesses and restaurants have suffered. Even with the loosening of restrictions coming on May 1, restaurants will continue to be banned from seating customers inside and countless other businesses like movie theaters and salons will stay closed.

Since March 16, over 400,000 Alabamians have filed for unemployment. Between now and May 15 when the governor’s newest order expires, that number will certainly increase even more. While it remains crucial that we take precautions to continue flattening the curve and keeping Alabamians safe, it is also imperative that we accelerate the process of reopening Alabama now, rather than several weeks down the road. Our small businesses simply cannot afford to stay closed any longer, because many of them will never recover from this.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has taken more aggressive measures to get Georgia back to work. Restaurants and movie theaters, for example, can reopen if they follow certain guidelines such as: limiting businesses to 10 patrons per 500 square feet, requiring employees to wear masks and be screened for illness, limiting party sizes to six people per table and keeping customers appropriately distanced inside establishments.

Alabama needs to take similar steps to reopen our businesses and get our people back to work. Otherwise, we will be putting ourselves in a situation that will take years to recover from. With our beaches reopening soon, now is the time to allow restaurants and other businesses to reopen. Our busy tourism season starts very soon, and these tourism dollars are critical not only to South Alabama but to the entire state.

Some argue that this approach focuses completely on the economy at the expense of the health and safety of our communities, but the economy is more than just the stock market and large corporations. The backbone of our economy are the small businesses with just a few employees who depend on their jobs to put food on the table and a roof over their heads. All businesses are essential, so it is time to quit picking winners and losers in this scenario. This is Alabama, a state full of smart people who have led the nation. It’s time to reopen Alabama. Now!

Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl is a Republican candidate for Alabama’s First Congressional District. 

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