While big box stores are allowed to remain open for holiday shopping, our politicians in Colorado are closing our small businesses, putting many thousands out of work during the holidays.
For months, small business owners in cities like Loveland have been working with government officials to keep the community safe while keeping their doors open and employees working. We’ve followed changing regulations and made investments for the sake of our community and our customers.
Then just two days before Thanksgiving and four days before Small Business Saturday, small businesses were told to close our doors. We were given no deadline, and there seemed to be no real plan from politicians for reprieve.
The new restrictions from the Larimer County Health Department unfairly single out small businesses. All a person has to do is walk into a big box store to know this is true; they were stuffed with people last week for Thanksgiving shopping and Black Friday.
This is why nearly 100 small business owners signed a pact to defy the new government restrictions. We are staying open.
We are staying open because if we don’t, thousands of workers will lose their jobs and businesses will be forced to shut their doors for good. Everyone in the pact is committed to staying open under the same “yellow restrictions” we’ve been living under for months. Those include operating at roughly 50% capacity for retailers and restaurants, breweries, gyms and salons, and keeping offices open with minimal staffs.
Following this order would mean laying off thousands of people who then don’t know if they can pay rent or give their family a nice Christmas. Following this order would result in many of our businesses going under. And it would result in greater unemployment numbers, contributing to the economic, social, mental and overall community health decline.
These orders are no longer about public health, because if that were true, the county and state health department would actually take the whole health of the community into account. We can’t just solve one problem — we have to have a dialogue about how we work together as a community.
We know COVID-19 is serious, and we’ve been the first ones to help. But we also now know COVID-19 is not a death sentence for the majority of people who get it, whereas this order is for many Loveland businesses.
Small businesses in Colorado are crying out for solutions. We are the restaurants, breweries, salons, gyms and other establishments in your communities that have been unfairly targeted with COVID-19 regulations. It’s happening across Colorado and across the United States.
This pact is a plea for help, for a dialogue, for solutions. We are not trying to circumvent the rules. Our leaders have had months to figure this out, and they knew this new spike was coming. Yet, their solution is to put people out of work, close small businesses and allow big box stores to remain open. Our leaders have failed small businesses by creating blanket regulations that are killing us.
We need action from Gov. Jared Polis now. In the meantime, we will remain open following safety regulations that have been working. We are committed to staying in business and to keeping our employees employed so that they can pay their rent and have Christmas.
Morgen Harrington is CFO at Grimm Brothers Brewhouse in Loveland, Colo., where she indulges her passion for producing premium beer, and Clay Caldwell is chef and head of hospitality at his restaurant, Betta Gumbo, in Loveland.
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