With so many challenges facing small businesses, it’s understandable for elected officials to be overwhelmed. Options seem limited to writing checks with money we don’t have or watch wholesale closings of vital economic enterprises. We know that each failed business is more than lost employment and tax revenue, it’s the death of a dream. No one has been harder hit than family-owned restaurants. COVID-19 restrictions, fear of contamination and loss of jobs have combined to challenge the most resilient of businesses. Fortunately, there are two immediate actions that can be taken to assist struggling cafes across coastal Virginia without spending a dime.
1) President Joe Biden immediately should end punitive tariffs on imported food. Americans rightly are suspicious of tariffs even under limited circumstances. The wholesale imposition of food tariffs serve no discernable national interest but are crippling restaurants, food trucks and takeout. Biden can end these tariffs with a stroke of his pen and we urge him to do so today.
2) The Virginia General Assembly should extend for two years the ban on games of skill in restaurants. Proponents on both sides of this longstanding debate have good points to make but one thing is agreed by all sides: For many businesses, this revenue has been the difference between keeping the doors open for a better day or “giving up the ghost” and closing the doors, adding to the unemployment lines.
Virginia will get through this pandemic whether it is four more months or 10 more months. Policy leaders must do all they can to make sure that as many businesses as possible survive to live beyond the pandemic. Repelling onerous food tariffs and allowing outside income for small restaurants would be a good start.