Who wants to get back to work?
Anybody who lost their job, some hours or were furloughed due to coronavirus-related closure or slowdown of their business, will get an answer sooner than later about how and when they can safely do that.
“How?” and “When?” are very important questions that must be answered before it can happen, and members of the business community locally and regionally are working on answers to those questions.
Locally there’s the group Osceola Back to Work, a “think tank” of business members, most being small businesses who are Kissimmee/Osceola County and St. Cloud Chamber of Commerce members, who are working to collect the based Osceola-centric information on what businesses can open safely while maintain social distancing and other CDC guidelines for stopping the spread of COVID-19.
Then there is a regional task force, with representatives from Osceola, Orange, Seminole and Lake counties, which is looking at the area’s economy as a whole to see what can open and when. Kissimmee/Osceola County Chamber President John Newstreet is on both task forces, and serves as Osceola’s liaison to the regional group.
“There’s just so many unknowns going forward,” Newstreet said. “As a region, we can do this together. It’s my hope that we can do it sooner than later, but we have to have the confidence of consumers who will venture out to business, and can do it safely. We don’t want the ‘OK’ given to reopen up, businesses reopen, we get a second spike and then they have to shut down again for a month … or however long.”
The Osceola group has been meeting on Fridays. The regional task force will meet on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m., Newstreet said.
At a brief Osceola County Commision meeting Monday, Commissioner Fred Hawkins said he wanted to see Osceola County’s re-opening plan work in “lock step” with Orange County’s to create confusion — or mass fleeing from one county to another because a kind of business is open in one place and closed in the other.
“I agree with Fred, from a business standpoint, about consistency and certainty,” Newstreet said.