Gov. Phil. Scott Tuesday ordered the closing of all Vermont’s restaurants and bars, effectively immediately. It’s another step in the state’s efforts to limit human interaction, thus slowing the spread of the coronavirus. With our schools, restaurants and bars closed, with with most businesses pushing their employees to work from home, we’re in unchartered territory and the pandemic has yet to reach its peak.

It’s a health care crisis the likes of which we’ve never experienced. And, in the moment, it’s a financial crisis as the markets -writ large- react to the massive disruption in process.

How we manage through this crisis will depend in large part on the federal government, which belatedly figured out that the health care crisis was serious, but still has yet to figure out how to deal with the economic repercussions of shutting things down.

When Governor Scott shut down the restaurants and the bars, businesses not known to squirrel away bundles of cash, then what’s the plan to avoid their demise? How are they kept afloat? This same question applies to a host of other businesses. How are they to manage?

The response from Washington — still in the early stages — is to get money into the hands of the people as quickly as possible. Included in the proposal is sending checks to each American household, a total of $250 billion. There are roughly 128 million American households; that’s translates into almost $2,000 per home, if that’s the settled upon total.

It’s a start, but nowhere near enough to weather the gathering storm. More will be required. The state itself doesn’t have the tools or the bank account big enough to make much of a difference.

The third tier in all this is us. As individuals we can’t rescue businesses by our lonesomes, but together we can have an enormous impact. Particularly with our local businesses. Rather than spend a nickel with Amazon, spend it with your local retailers. Help keep them afloat.

The same applies with our restaurants. The St. Albans Messenger has joined forces with the City of St. Albans and the Town of St. Albans to promote our restaurants, to encourage the community to support them by calling them, ordering take-out, and agreeing for curb-side pickup.

This is important. Places to eat and congregate are a key part of the community’s social fabric. When the governor ordered them to close their doors to their sitting customers, the only means by which these business can continue to operate is through the call-in orders the community places.

The hope, obviously, is that the closures are relatively short in duration. But there isn’t any way to know that. And, at this point, there isn’t any way to know what help is coming our way from the federal government, or when, or how much.

The power we do have is within ourselves, as individuals and as a community. It’s important to keep perspective. The crisis is survivable. And when we look back there will be a host of learned lessons that can be acted upon to make us less susceptible to the next crisis. But for now, what we can do is to be calm within our homes, and to reach out beyond ourselves in ways that help others. When this is over, we want to be able to look back and know that we have done what we can to keep our communities strong and prosperous.

by Emerson Lynn

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