Answering Questions for Iowans About Business and Shopping Safety

May 7, 2020

As businesses across Iowa look at how and when they'll reopen during the coronavirus pandemic, customers have questions about their safety if they go out and shop. Local 5 spoke with the Iowa Business Council to get some answers.

Local 5 News: I know business owners are going to be cautious about this because there are so many different rules, some businesses are opening and others are going to be more cautious about us. As businesses across Iowa look at how and when they'll reopen during the coronavirus pandemic, customers have questions about their safety if they go out and shop. This clearly works better for some businesses than others. Some, it's an immediate opening, some are going to have to think about it, I would imagine. 

Joe Murphy, Iowa Business Council: I think that's right. And I think as we talk about reopening the economy, it's really about how we operate in a phased approach using the data from our health scientists and our government officials to really guide that reopening process.  You know, reopening the economy in Iowa and the entire country for that matter is not like flipping a light switch. It's more about turning a dimmer or turning a dial. And so as more data comes in, as more opportunities come in for reopening, businesses will be able to use that guidance, make decisions that are the best case for themselves, while most importantly, keeping the health of their employees, their customers and their clients right at the forefront to make sure that those individuals are taken care of and provided for.

Local 5: And I talked to a friend who's a business owner ... and there's this perception may be that every business just wants to immediately open, they're not concerned about the impact that their opening may have. But that probably is is clearly not true with all the businesses that you represent, right? They're very concerned about how they're opening will impact not only their employees but their customers? 

Joe Murphy: Without question. I think one thing for sure is that everybody is very excited to get back to some sort of normal reality that we all experienced prior to this pandemic. But the facts remain that that normalcy is going to take quite a bit of time. And so while we all hope that we can get to that point at some time in the future, we just don't know when that is. And the reality is that it will probably be quite some time from now. And so we can really think about ways in which we can open responsibly, open in phases. And, you know, for those industries and organizations that are beginning to reopen in Iowa, again, they're not opening up fully right away, like they were, you know, eight, nine weeks ago. They're opening up in a very responsible manner, opening up in phases, opening up in ways that have strict social distancing requirements still in place. And certainly keeping capacity limits quite low from what they were you know, around St. Patrick's Day or even before

Local 5: And this is kind of what the governor has said. The governor has said she is trusting Iowans and their level of responsibility and business owners in Iowa and their level of responsibility to not just open without any concern for what the impact could be. I mean, she's continuing to talk about the responsibility of Iowans and Iowa business owners to do it right and to observe the rules, right?

Murphy: Absolutely. I think that's absolutely the case. Certainly, our members are operating in that in that perspective. Our members are the 22 largest employers in the state. But when you look on down throughout industry from the whole state's perspective, business owners of small and mid-sized companies are doing the same thing. Being extraordinarily responsible. Because the worst thing that a business owner could do or that an industry to do would be to go into this too fast, cause a second wave, or cause panic, which would really, really impact consumer confidence, really impact employee confidence. And that's really where that dangerous economic situation really comes into play. You know, we're really trying to figure out whether or not this recovery session will be sort of a capital V-shaped or a long, drawn-out capital U-shaped. I think the facts are that we have to be very pragmatic. We have to be very self-assured and putting in place reopening mechanisms that allow us to open up safely, responsibly, and with the greatest of care for our employees and for our customers and clients.

Watch full Local 5 interview here.


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