Page residents, like most of the country, are divided on when to open the floodgates and let business get back to business. Different states are taking different approaches, some more strategically than others.
Arizona Gov. Ducey won both praise and disapproval when he extended the state’s version of shelter in place. The executive order would have expired May 31. The extension follows a similar pattern adopted by other states, to open in stages based on proximity conditions and group density. Ducey’s sequel order is titled, “Return Stronger — Amending the Stay Home, Stay Healthy, Stay Connected.”
Ducey said, “As we breathe life back into our businesses, we want to make sure we’re taking common sense precautions to keep employees and customers safe.
“Taking these responsible steps that prioritize public health will help grow confidence and ensure we don’t just reopen all businesses but do it successfully.”
Ducey said he is, “grateful to all the business owners and employees putting safety first and providing their feedback as we take continued steps to reenergize Arizona’s economy.”
As of this writing, steps many businesses must take to reopen are unclear. Guidelines given are vague. According to Arizona Department of Health Services, beginning May 4, “retail businesses can sell goods through delivery service, window service, walk-up service, drive-through service, drive-up service, curbside delivery or appointment provided they establish and implement sanitation and physical distancing measures.” On May 8, businesses can resume “partial openings” if they abide by U.S. Department of Labor or the ADHS prescribed measures for social distancing and sanitation.
Monday, guidelines were announced for restaurants to open as early as May 11. Restaurants are asked to “consider” various precautions and to use nonmedical grade masks or cloth face coverings by employees when near other employees and customers. The guidance also recommends using disposable menus and single serving condiments, no-touch trash cans and doors, and to wipe pens, counters and hard surfaces between use. Most of the guidelines are standard practices for well-run restaurants.
Still, restaurant owners face challenges and uncertainty. Many had planned opening May 1. This was shot down by the latest “Stay Home” order.
Adam Cranston, owner of the popular Page restaurant State 48, said, “We will probably just stand by as long as possible. We don’t want to open before people are ready. Things are changing so much and so often, it’s hard to make any concrete plans.”
Cranston added, “I know there are restaurants that really don’t have a choice and need to get their doors open before it’s too late. Livelihoods are at stake on both sides.”
The Chronicle reached out to people in the community for their take on the issues. The following are unedited responses (only typos were corrected):
Selfish or selfless? I've been called both lately but mostly selfish. I've been screamed at by an NPS employee that I'm a selfish person and it is always about me. You are correct, I am, but what you may not see is my motive and the selfless reasons behind my actions.
I challenged both Utah and Arizona governors, Lena Fowler and county commissioners, and GCNRA superintendent Billy Shott because their actions don't affect them personally. They are safe, they are still getting paid by taxpayer money. Have you noticed not a single federal, state, or county employee has been laid off? Their decisions have extremely crippled this community and its economy, even forcing the city to layoff several of its employees. Now the Arizona governor has extended his executive orders another 15 days. It will be several years before we are back to where we should be economically.
Unlike those in government, my actions have consequences that not only affect me but those who trust me to base my decisions on facts over fear, and to do the right thing. I am on the phone from daylight to dark making sure I do everything in my power to keep 145 people off the unemployment line, making sure a local company that puts almost $9 million a year into this community, just from payroll alone, stays running and more importantly, stays in Page. Making sure employees and spouses that have or have had this virus are getting what they need. Crying (yes, I have feelings) when informed an employee has died from it. Tears of joy because a spouse who was in a coma for three weeks will be a survivor. Anger when learning an employee’s spouse was laid off instantly because of the Page rumor mill saying GYCB employees had the virus. The frustration and anxiety of losing hundreds of thousands of dollars, not by my actions but because of the actions of others.
Who gets to turn the light switch back on? You? Me? The governor? The president? Dr. Fauci? Bill Gates? Who? Who will you trust? The time is now, not 15 days from now, not 30 days from now but now.
I bark a lot and very loudly. I beat the drum the loudest when wrongs are being done by those who don’t experience the consequence. I will always be the attack dog. No apologies. I am selfish that way.
My family is from New England and I have heard from them how awful it was there. I don't think people here are taking it as seriously because it is not right in their faces. However, we have a tiny hospital and my fear is a lot of people getting sick at once and us not having a way to take care of everyone. When my son was 3, he had a severe bowel obstruction and the hospital could not handle it so they life flighted us to PCH. If they can’t handle a bowel obstruction in a 3-year-old, how can they handle an influx of patients with COVID-19? Don't get me wrong the hospital is great, but it’s just a small-town hospital. I know that people are worried about the economy as well, but if we open up too soon, we it will damage the economy far worse than if we do this correctly.
I’m starting to think, that even with the passing of three people from one family in the Bodaway-Gap area, that the City of Page wants to open businesses back up because they don’t want to spend their own money to help citizens stay home safe. If you open up businesses too early, everyone knows there most likely will be a second wave of the pandemic and it could possibly be worse than the first.
I haven’t seen the City of Page set up hand-washing stations in high traffic areas, collecting masks for their citizens, I have seen many businesses and individuals step up to help one another out. What type of sanitation steps is the City of Page taking to properly open up?
Also, people are reaching out and struggling to get assistance during this time. If businesses opened back up, many won’t be eligible for unemployment if their job is available TOO EARLY, forcing them back into the public. Then what happens? Due to financial hardships, lack of assistance, people will be forced to go to work regardless of the health risks and regardless if the Navajo Nation is still battling the disease. How many employees will come from off the reservation?
During this pandemic, rent is still due and so is our utility bill. In March, Gov. Ducey issued an order delaying eviction for renters impacted by COVID-19. What will happen to those families when the 120 days are up? Will we see many families packing up and moving because they have been unable to pay rent during this time. There are a lot of hidden issues many families are facing. Just because we can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there and those problems are growing.
Should we focus on opening back up right now? Or staying safe and saving lives? Do we not have enough resources as a community to ensure the safety of the citizens in this town? Beware, when you open up a business in this town, other businesses in other towns especially the reservation will be closed, you’ll have more people coming to town for that one business. Depending on the type of business, you’ll have a different group of people coming in seeking the service they can’t receive elsewhere. It won’t just be the people coming off the reservation to shop at Walmart.
So, you’ll get your money, but at what cost? The mayor nor the city council will be the ones working those jobs with the public. They won’t be at risk while making these decisions that will affect the rest of us.
What are they providing and putting in place to keep us safe? That should be our focus opening up, NOT rushing to be the first to open up.