Sen. Garlan Gudger has been appointed to a subcommittee tasked with formulating a plan for reopening Alabama’s economy and is asking business owners to provide him with their thoughts.
Gudger, owner of Southern Accents Architectural Antiques, said the mission of the subcommittee is to figure out procedures and timelines for reopening businesses and industries around the state, while protecting public health during the coronavirus pandemic. The subcommittee is working on a tight timeline, with a deadline of April 17 to present the plan to State Health Official Dr. Scott Harris and Gov. Kay Ivey.
“In the normal, routine world we would not be able to do this for probably a year,” said Gudger. “But because of circumstances and because we want businesses to reopen, that is what we’re doing. We have to get it quick because our goal is to begin reopening.” He said the subcommittee is hoping to formulate a plan that will allow some businesses to begin reopening at the end of April or early May.
Gudger said the plan will not be “one-size-fits-all,” but will take into consideration types of businesses, the regions they operate in, number of employees, number of customers and other factors.
“We’re trying to find a common sense, business approach to what makes sense on restarting this economy,” he said.
He is asking business owners to post their thoughts on his FaceBook page, facebook/garlangudgerjr. In particular, he said he’d like to know:
1) If you could reopen now, would you?
2) If so, would you want your customers and employees to use personal protection equipment such as face masks, gloves or gowns?
3) If you could open up, what ideas do you have for making it safe for your employees and customers?
The subcommittee is being chaired by state Rep. Danny Garrett (R-Trussville). Other subcommittee members are Senator Chris Elliott (R – Fairhope), Representative Joe Lovvorn (R – Auburn), Rosemary Elebash – National Federation of Independent Business, Alabama State Chair, Mindy Hanan – Alabama Restaurant and Hospitality Association, Executive Director, Katie Britt – Business Council of Alabama, CEO, Rick Brown – Alabama Retail Association, President, Tony Cochran of CK Business Solutions in Albertville, and Stephen McNair of McNair Historic Preservation in Mobile. Gudger said all the state legislators on the subcommittee are business owners of various sized businesses.
Gudger said he’s heard from many other business owners about how the economic shutdown from the coronavirus has impacted their operations.
“They’re stressed, not only because of the virus and the health aspect of it, but they’re stressed because they are almost at their credit limit because they bought a lot of stuff for Easter that they’re not able to turn over. They’ve been doing everything they can to keep their doors open and pay their employees,” he said.
The rapid pace of changes has been difficult, too, he said. “We’re trying to set in place a date, we’re trying to set a planning procedure, so that people can plan for that instead of it being sprung on them the first day. That just makes common sense to me as a business owner.”
Editor Amy Henderson can be reached at 256-734-2131 ext 216.