It’s nearly here, folks. The end of a long, hard-fought battle against COVID-19 and the subsequent failing economy, that will ultimately be the beginning of another long battle to recovery. With the newly developed vaccines rolling out at a better-than-ideal rate, the harrowing consequences of stay-at-home orders and social distancing on local businesses seem to be coming to an end.Picture this: live sports and festivals returning, theme parks opening, and indoor dining at full capacity. It may sound like a COVID-19 fever dream, but it is in fact the new normal we have all been dreaming about since March 2020… and it’s here, right now!We can see the light at the end of the tunnel and there are blueprints for us to review. Live sports are back and I’m excited to get back to games. Disneyland, Universal Studios, and Magic Mountain are open, and I’ve made my reservations. Restrictions have loosened, and I’m traveling this summer.Yet, we cannot let ourselves forget those who lost their businesses, their homes, and even their lives this past year. We cannot forget how the government failed us in so many ways, but also extended a helping hand and much-needed aid. For all these reasons, we must remember that this light does not signal a full end, but rather just the beginning to a road of recovery.As they say, necessity is the mother of invention. While the world has changed significantly in the past year, there are many silver linings that we will carry with us into the future. With government restrictions on live and social interaction, inspiration for updated technological platforms that have made it so much easier than ever to connect to our loved ones, friends and colleagues all around the world. Due to the overwhelming burden on our health care industry, telemedicine has quickly revolutionized the accessibility and affordability of health care. Businesses have not only reacted to challenges but have re-imagined society for the better.We have also seen the best parts of humanity. If there was one word to describe the last 12 months, it would not be “COVID-19” or “recession.” It could be “innovation,” “strength” or “resilience.” We saw our children, who lost milestones such as homecomings, proms and graduations, adapt to online learning. We saw our businesses work to keep employees and customers safe while providing necessary economic stability and jobs. And finally, we saw our health care and frontline workers step up to the challenge to care for those in need, bravely facing an unknown virus and putting their well-being and lives on hold for the greater good.The sacrifices that were made by all will not soon be forgotten, and as we move into this post-pandemic era, we must be reverent and give honor to the past.
What does this mean? It means fighting for our communities, keeping our government accountable, and ensuring that government works on the behalf of the community and businesses, not its own. California will be back on its feet soon. We must continue to uplift the voices of businesses to ensure that the government relaxes onerous regulations and allows a full and speedy reopening.
It’s time for the government to release its reins on businesses and place its attention on investing in the creation of jobs and economic revitalization. Our businesses, our families, and our communities are ready for a comeback. Let’s make it happen.Stuart Waldman is president of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, a business advocacy organization based in Van Nuys that represents employers in the San Fernando Valley at the local, state and federal levels of government.