All Washingtonians have a role to play in bringing the COVID-19 crisis to an end, says Senator Ann Rivers, Rep. Brandon Vick and Rep. Larry Hoff in this op-ed they submitted today.
As millions of Washingtonians continue to abide by Governor Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, the question on everyone’s mind is: When will our state reopen?
Some are asking that question out of concern for their economic future, as they’ve recently been laid off and now have little to no money coming in the door. Others are asking out of concern for public health and safety, worried that lifting restrictions too soon could lead to a new round of COVID-19 cases.
The truth is there is no perfect roadmap for the weeks and months ahead. What we do know is we all have a role to play in bringing this crisis to an end. By making wise decisions, including practicing social distancing, infections will continue to decrease and Governor Inslee will have the data—and confidence—he needs to reopen more economic and recreational activity in our state.
We saw an example of this confidence recently when the governor announced private construction companies could resume operations if they followed new safety requirements to protect workers. While long overdue, it was a good decision that will help tens of thousands of Washingtonians and inject much-needed revenue into our economy. With that said, this cannot be the only action the governor takes. Nearly one million Washingtonians have been forced to file for unemployment as a result of this crisis. Governor Inslee must have a sense of urgency in bringing business leaders together for discussions about what other industries can immediately—and safely—get people back to work.
That is just one of the many recommended actions in the Safe Economic Restart Plan that was proposed by House and Senate Republicans in mid-April. Another is to exempt small businesses from paying both sales and B&O taxes for one year. Our small businesses have been crushed by this ongoing economic shutdown. Providing tax relief at the state level—in concert with relief from the federal Small Business Administration—would help many of them keep their doors open.
Outside of business, we have agreed with those who have been calling for restrictions to be lifted on a number of recreational activities, including fishing, golfing and hunting. If Washingtonians can be trusted to go to the grocery store and safely practice social distancing, then they can be trusted to responsibly engage in outdoor activities. In a recent press conference, Governor Inslee announced each of these activities would be reopened to the public starting May 5.
While there are likely to be some significant challenges ahead as we continue to recover as a state, the governor’s recent actions have given us confidence the data he’s seeing is trending in the right direction. We know our state has already flattened the coronavirus curve. Now we must avoid a recurrence of this disease as more restrictions are lifted on economic and recreational activity. By working together and following common-sense safety protocols, we can ensure we are successful in that endeavor.
Reps. Brandon Vick and Larry Hoff, both R-Vancouver, represent the 18th Legislative District.