Friends, we are in unprecedented times and it seems most community leaders lead more from shallow intuitions and guesswork than thoughtful, fearless leadership.
As each day passes we edge closer to a nationwide reopening and I’m worried. I’m worried local governments are not planning accordingly. I’m worried local governments are more passive than active and I’m worried not enough is happening to open businesses the right way. To put this in another and more blunt way, it seems to me most elective officials do not know &%$# when it comes to business and how to handle this situation.
I have given this a lot of thought recently and I see a simple path forward to safely open each new market. Of course no plan will be perfect but utilizing these guidelines that I list below can create a transparent and safe approach for our communities.
A Task Force
Each local area should have a dedicated "task force" made up of city officials, local healthcare leaders and key local business leaders. It’s important that a potential task force would represent the community at large. A good starting roster would be representative city officials, a medical doctor (who owns their own practice), a restaurant owner, retail owner, a marketing agency owner, a representative from a local bank and any other successful entrepreneur willing to think creatively and collectively.
This task force could use the networks and combined strengths of every sector of the community represented. The task force can use digital technology and do updates via social media to communicate well with the local community — which is one of the key aspects to a successful plan.
The dedicated task force should work with the city to send out a comprehensive survey online and in the mail. The goal here is to understand community and business expectations and desires. This is critically needed feedback before a community “re-opens” for business.
Understanding community expectations will reduce conflict and naysaying from the local community. The community will feel heard, because they are. A cities plan wasn’t something developed in some back smoke-filled room, but truly represents the community because their voice is represented and heard.
Safety protocols need to be developed that are both proactive and responsive. Interventions like regular cleaning practices in public spaces (think door handles, crosswalk buttons and the removal of PPE related trash).
Local governments should partner with local businesses to establish best practices for public/private spaces, community funded hand sanitizer stations and help in sourcing cleaning materials and related services.
The experts agree, social distancing practices prevent the spread of viruses. In a re-opened community a culture of social distancing needs to continue. This is a helpful protocol and will help with the prevention and spread of COVID-19.
Cities should provide social distancing guidelines and have them posted online and on physical signage throughout the city.
This is of course, just a start, but it’s a start we can take right now and it’s a start that will make a meaningful impact in local communities — in our local community. When local government and local businesses collaborate the community wins.
COVID-19 is our communities opportunity to do something together and to do something meaningful.
Let’s start a dialogue. I’m curious to know you thoughts, your suggestions and your solutions for moving forward.