News Release

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CRA President and CEO Rachel Michelin in Politico: Post-coronavirus business operations may look different in California versus Florida


04/22/2020 04:31 AM EDT

SACRAMENTO — Retailers are considering “sneeze guards” and ways to quarantine fitting room items. Restaurant owners are imagining a future with masked servers and temperature checks. Industries built on the personal touch are looking to eliminate physical contact.

Businesses may be appealing to Congress for more aid, but they know key details about the economy’s reawakening won’t be hammered out in Washington. The states, counties and even cities are widely expected to decide when each business can open its doors and under what conditions.

…Until last week, when California Gov. Gavin Newsom first broached the subject of restarting the economy, it almost felt taboo to discuss the question openly, said Rachel Michelin, president of the California Retailers Association.

“No one was ready for that conversation,” she said.

That’s quickly changed. Newsom did not provide a timeline, but he laid out benchmarks the state would use to reopen the economy. They include criteria for testing and contact tracing, health care capacity and development of treatments for Covid-19, among others.

…“We’re really hoping we’ll get a little more clarity from the state and from the governor on what it’s going to take to reopen because our member companies are ready to step up and we want to be part of conversations with him,” Michelin said.

Some promising public health measures — such as temperature-taking, which governors have proposed — should be considered along with their logistical, legal and even safety risks, business leaders said. Michelin said she received a disturbing report of a customer spitting on an employee who was simply trying to enforce a city’s mask ordinance.

…Shuttered businesses that intend to reopen are looking to essential industries for safety ideas. Michelin said retailers around the nation are sharing ideas such as removing the once-ubiquitous cosmetic and perfume samples from makeup counters, installing shields and creating contact-free checkout options.

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