The following was first published by media outlets across the state, including the Hartford Business Journal, Hartford Courant, The Day, Connecticut Post, Stamford Advocate, New Haven Register, Middletown Press, Torrington Register Citizen, Greenwich Time, Norwalk Hour, Danbury News Times, and the Waterbury Republican American. It was written by CBIA president and CEO Joe Brennan.
Connecticut, like many states, is entering a critical phase in the fight against the global coronavirus pandemic. We are nearing peak infections and hospitalizations, and hope that our collective actions have indeed flattened the curve.
However, as we continue listening to the advice of medical experts, we are also at the point where we must seriously plan for the reopening of "nonessential" businesses and jumpstarting our economic recovery.
Stating the obvious, none of us have been through anything like this in our lifetimes. How we move forward from this point will define how our economy will rebound and perform for the foreseeable future. That's why we must get it right.
The Lamont administration is appropriately developing a thoughtful, deliberate approach to reopening Connecticut. As Dr. Anthony Fauci says, it's not like flipping a switch.
This is first and foremost a public health crisis. Robust testing and other methods recommended by health professionals must be incorporated into any plan.
The governor has taken an important first step by convening a panel of experts from the medical and business worlds to analyze the data and prepare for a pragmatic and successful economic reopening that makes sense for Connecticut.
Gov. Lamont, along with his medical and economic development teams, has demonstrated more flexibility than many others in the region in terms of keeping as much of our economy open as possible.
For example, we were the first state I'm aware of that declared all manufacturing companies "essential," recognizing the importance of supply chains and the hundreds of thousands of jobs they support.
But there is a natural frustration that things are not moving as quickly as we would like. Although some companies are open for business, many are not, and the pain experienced by those employers and their employees is palpable.
We want to see these businesses open and their employees bringing home paychecks as soon as possible. But the challenge of doing this safely is enormous.
This has been clear in my conversations with the administration over the last few weeks. We regularly talk about fully opening the economy as soon as possible, but balancing that need against the risks of further outbreaks is tricky at best.
As I talk with my colleagues from other business organizations around the country, I find that our challenges and concerns are quite similar. All are anxious to see their states fully reopen but are cognizant of the fact that doing so haphazardly and without proper planning will cause more harm down the road.
Many are looking to collaborate regionally, as Gov. Lamont is doing with several other governors in the Northeast. Although we need a plan that works for our state, we are not an island and should coordinate with those states that are part of our regional economy.
The cooperation and collaboration between all sectors, political parties, and levels of government in Connecticut has been excellent given the unprecedented nature of this crisis.
Leaders from business, labor, nonprofits, academia, and government understand this is the time to come together and find common ground, not to divide or follow a separate path.
At CBIA we have always believed that the best solutions are found when political parties work in a bipartisan manner, and this has never been truer than now. In fact, Gov. Lamont, a Democrat, has wisely chosen to include in discussions and solicit advice from Republican leaders, as well as his Democratic colleagues, during this crisis. This must continue.
Every resident of Connecticut is critical to the success of any economic reactivation plan. The social distancing already practiced by so many must become the norm as more businesses reopen.
Companies will employ all measures at their disposal to continue protecting employees as well as customers, clients, vendors, and visitors, but every individual must do their part to keep our communities safe.
Connecticut businesses and the people they employ are nothing if not resilient. That is why I'm confident that if we move forward with proper engagement from all stakeholders and bipartisan cooperation among policymakers, we will reopen our economy as safely, successfully, and quickly as possible. We have no other choice.