It took less than a day for us to learn about the local economic casualty of the coronavirus pandemic and public health measures enacted to combat it.
One day after Gov. Tim Walz announced on March 16 an executive order that would close the serving areas of all restaurants and bars in the state for at least two weeks, Crow River Media reporter Sarv Mithaqiyan received a call from Dick Burgart, owner of the Bonfire Bar & Grill northwest of Hutchinson. The restaurant would be closing and making a pandemic-inspired food shelf donation the following day.
Burgart’s story is just one of many in these difficult times.
Owning and operating a small business can be a challenge even in the best of times. We are far from those good times now, and one doesn’t have to go far to sense the desperation that the pandemic has created in many corners of our business communities.
Now, more than ever, local businesses need our help.
The desire to help can seem at odds with the directives for social distancing, limiting gatherings to small groups and closure of some aspects of business. The sooner and more seriously we act on this public health guidance, the sooner and more robustly we can rebound from this tragedy and begin to rebuild the economy and some sense of normalcy.
We saw a social media post recently that spoke volumes about what, really, should be our obligation to support local businesses:
”Do you remember all of those local businesses you asked for a donation toward your gala, fundraiser, event, organization, or club? They’re calling in the favor. Answer the call.”
Everyone is being affected, even hurt, in some way by this pandemic. We need to find ways to help.
So, when you’re wondering what to have for dinner tonight, and you’re the kind of person who might otherwise patronize a local eating establishment, why not continue that tradition — if you’re healthy and can respectfully observe social distancing guidelines — and pick up a to-go package for a nice dinner “out” in your own home. Many in our region remain open for business and have adopted thoughtful approaches to serving guests in this new “to-go world.”
Or find that item you need at a local store. Again, assuming you’re healthy or aren’t part of a COVID-19 at-risk group, you can still pick up necessities from your local merchant. Just observe proper social distancing, wash your hands and be safe.
Any of these businesses will be glad to see you, and help you — even from 6 feet away.
And while we’re asking you to support local businesses, there’s one more we’d be remiss not to mention — the newspaper. Like many in our industry, we are providing online COVID-19 stories free to readers. Although we are a business, we also feel the role of newspapers is important when it comes to informing people during these difficult times. We all must do what we can to stop the spread of this disease, and an informed public is a crucial step toward that goal. But without support from readers and advertisers, the newspaper’s service wouldn’t be possible. So thank you to those who are supporting our efforts, and if you aren’t already supporting the newspaper, please consider doing so if you can.
Our local economy — we — need these local businesses around. They make us stronger communities through not just the goods and services they sell, but through the support they give to our events, organizations and community fiber.
That means finding ways right now to help them through the difficult times.