The United States has over a million cases of COVID-19, according to the CDC, but the states should help small-business owners and reopen now.

The money that was meant to help these small companies was claimed by several bigger companies, such as Ashford Hospitality Trust Inc., a real estate company that owns over 100 hotels across the United States. Only 15 of the 245 public companies that applied for at least $905 million returned $116 million to the Paycheck Protection Program so far.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate as of April 2020 was 14.7%, which is the highest rate of unemployment since the Great Depression (24.9%). A large factor of this may be the closure of small, nonessential businesses, who are unable to get the expected amount of financial aid they were told and had to cut employees. As much as avoiding the virus is important, if people do not have enough money to pay for rent or basic needs, more problems will arise.

Countries like Taiwan and Hong Kong responded quickly to the virus, flattening the curve without even having to implement total lockdown. They currently still have the same restrictions that are as simple as consistently using masks and hand sanitizers and implementing social distancing. But in the United States, people are protesting against these precautions.

Instead of going around complaining about how “masks are hard to breathe in” and cutting a hole in the middle in the mask like the Kentucky woman in a grocery store, or claiming that the virus is a hoax, Americans need a wake-up slap and realize that restarting the economy is important, and it is doable. All they need is the same awareness and initiative as the Taiwanese and Hong Kongers.

Slowly reopening businesses under a new normal, where people are still taking the virus seriously and taking necessary precautions would be beneficial to small-business owners. Reopening does not necessarily mean easing up on restrictions, it could just mean introducing a strict standard or guideline the public have to follow, and if the area meets the standard, the businesses may be permitted to reopen.

With a controlled environment that is sufficient to reduce the spread of the virus, small businesses can reopen and function under this new normal of using masks, hand sanitizers, and social distancing.

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