The unprecedented coronavirus pandemic has had an incredible impact on all aspects of society. The gravity of the pandemic and concerns about the health of citizens led government leaders and policymakers to impose a lockdown to slow and prevent the spread of the virus. Southeast Florida was the part of the state most affected by coronavirus. The lockdown also greatly impacted Southeast Florida’s economy. Many small businesses have closed or are struggling to stay open and pay workers. Unemployment has been the biggest economic effect of coronavirus in Florida.
A few weeks ago, Miami-Dade County began the process of opening up the economy after about two months of lockdown. It will be important for Southeast Florida to communicate very effectively to its residents to avoid confusion and misunderstanding as the area embarks on this challenge to open up but keep people safe.
People are apprehensive about opening up the economy, and there is a tension between wanting to go back to work or experience a greater amount of normalcy and the desire to stay safe and protected from the coronavirus. However, those two goals do not have to conflict. Until there is an effective treatment or vaccine for the coronavirus, life will not go back to the way it was six months ago. If people are able to adhere to safety and health precautions, they should be able to enjoy more freedom and a more normal way of life than under lockdown.
The biggest challenge for businesses throughout this time will be proving to consumers that they will be safe engaging with the business. Customers will already be wary of risks, and will want to ensure that they are not jeopardizing their safety and their families’ safety by eating at a certain restaurant or getting a haircut. It will be key for businesses to communicate and demonstrate the measures they are taking to keep their workers and customers safe. It is also important that the businesses communicate to their clients their expectations for social distancing or scheduling appointments. For some people, it will be sufficient to see that businesses are instituting and following new safety protocols. Others, however, will not feel safe until a treatment or cure for the coronavirus emerges.
Some of the measures that businesses are instating to keep customers safe include greatly reducing business capacity. This means that places like hair salons will be able to see a much smaller amount of clients per day than they were accustomed to. This reduction in client volume will probably lead to increased prices for services such as haircuts. Restaurants will also be reducing the amount of people that they serve. Some restaurants are dealing with this reduction in client volume by filling up empty booths with mannequins to make the restaurant seem less empty.
Throughout these times, and as the economy slowly begins to reopen, businesses and customers will have to creatively address the new challenges posed to these businesses by reopening during the pandemic. Ultimately, a relationship of trust and communication between business and consumer will facilitate this transition.