Lisa Johnson: It is time to begin looking beyond the pandemic and toward the future

Editor’s Note: The following is a letter from Bossier Chamber of Commerce President Lisa Johnson to the members of the Bossier Chamber of Commerce. Reprinted with permission.

Dear Chamber members, 

We, like many of you, are ready to get the economy moving again, which means reopening business. We know that this desire needs to be coupled with a careful approach to maintaining safe practices so we continue to slow the spread of COVID-19. And while many of us are ready to get out of our homes and go back into public, we need to consider that there are others – some healthy, some with pre-existing conditions – who are not ready to try to re-emerge into “normal” society. This is a balancing act between staying safe and making a sustainable living that we have never navigated before. 

For a few weeks now, on our weekly Chamber Chat and Virtual Networking gatherings, I have been stressing to our business community that it is time for each of us to begin planning for what recovery looks like for our businesses. While we do not know the date on which we can reopen, that does not mean that we do not need to get a plan in place so we are ready to move FORWARD. 

The U.S. Chamber has given us some good guidance throughout the COVID-19 outbreak – from workplace safety to resources and loan assistance information – and they are also providing some talking points in planning for reopening the economy. 

We agree with this thought from the U.S. Chamber: It is increasingly certain – returning to work will be gradual, phased-in, and will vary by factors such as location, sector, business type or size, and the health status of workers. It also will require continued social distancing, expanded use of personal protective equipment, and other countermeasures.  

This will most certainly mean business as we knew it will definitely look different, with different procedures, processes, requirements and, yes probably, restrictions.  

To help business and government anticipate the challenges we may face, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has begun to explore and catalogue some of the major implications of returning to work in this environment—ranging from workplace safety and employee rights to liability concerns and continued revenue disruptions. And we must not allow a lack of resources, regulations that are not fit-for-purpose, and the fear of litigation to sideline efforts to return to work and life—safely, successfully, and sustainably. 

Some initial thoughts are detailed below across three different sections:  

  1. Essential Services and Resources – Bringing employees back to work and reopening commerce will require that certain essential services and resources are in place.  
    These include:  
  • General Health Screening  
  • COVID-19 Testing 
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) 
  • Transportation, specifically public transit 
  • Childcare 
  1. Resolution of Regulatory and Legal Liability Issues 
  • Health Privacy 
  • Discrimination Claims 
  • Safe Workplace Requirements 
  1. Support for Business and Individuals 
  • Independent Contractors 
  • All Businesses and Individuals 
  • Businesses Dependent on High-Density Gatherings or Travel 
  • Individuals Delayed in Returning to Work 

>> Read the detailed document on these sections here.

Do you have thoughts or questions to add to this discussion? We would love to hear from you. Email President Lisa Johnson at ljohnson@bossierchamber.com. We will forward your thoughts along to the U.S. Chamber as well as we are all in this together. 

ALSO, it is worth pausing to thank all of those who never stopped working, who risk their personal health to keep everyone else safer. As we proceed, we should think about how we honor them and recognize their efforts.

Working together, we know we can be better prepared for the successful reopening of our economy and an eventual return to normal ways of working and living.

I would love to talk to you about this more on my weekly Chamber Chat with President Lisa Johnson, Mondays at 3 p.m.