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From the ED's Desk: Helping Businesses During Covid-19

March 25, 2020

This originally ran in a March 14, 2020 version of the SMMC News & Notes weekly e-newsletter and updated with current guidelines:

A Message on the Crucial Need to Support Our Local Business
By: Cory King, Executive Director
This is a genuinely scary time for our local employees and local businesses.  The decisions to cancel and postpone events or activities that generate income for our local businesses is not a decision anyone takes lightly.  Each organization who needs to make that decision knows that the cancelling of events to intentionally not hurt one group of people, can force unintentional harm to a separate group of employees and businesses. 

Here are some things you can still do to support businesses or business items of note:

- Be safe.
Take precautions announced by the Maine CDC when you do go out. (Cough into your arm, wash your hands for 20 seconds while singing a favorite tune, stay home if you are sick, etc.)  For the rest of March and likely into most if not all of April, the State of Maine and individual towns have restrictions on leaving your house.  Please follow the guidelines and give social distance to the essential employees who need to be out on the roads.   

- You are valued.
Know how much your patronage is valued and that the businesses who are remaining open are taking extra clean steps to ensure they have mitigated as many risks as possible by wiping down counters and shelves and such in their grocery stores, post offices, banks and other places of essential businesses.

- Keep tipping service workers
In fact, feel free to overtip for takeout orders you pick up if you would have normally eaten in the restaurant.

- Don’t mock those taking precautions  
You have no idea what they are going through, and the last thing they need is someone making fun of them while they are trying to mitigate risk to their loved ones.  Some people where masks, others may distance themselves from you for their safety and yours.  All of these things are okay.  

- Call first.  Call first.  Call.First. 
Make sure the business is open.  Make sure the doctor’s waiting room isn’t full.  Make sure they can see you even if you have an appointment.  Every best practice column I have seen on this has included washing hands for 20-30 seconds and ‘call first’. 

- Don’t overreact at each other. 
People will cough and cover their mouths.  And people will sneeze.  You are surrounded by people doing both every day but now you have heightened awareness of it.  Just keep your distance and take the precautions you know to stay healthy. 

- Do the elbow nudge thing as a greeting. 
Is it as welcoming as a handshake, or as warm as a hug?  Nope. 
Is it a whole lot better that skin-to-skin contact?  Yes. 
Only the second part matters for the next few weeks/months.

- Keep supporting local businesses however you can. 
Online.  Make an order for pickup.  Buy them Purell for their front counters if you have extra.  Whatever you can think of, but offer help however you see fit.  Pay It Forward Maine has some great advice on this.  

- Support your food banks and community kitchens. 
Some people will lose hours, shifts or maybe lose more than that.  This will put a strain on all services including food banks.  Support them as you can, as many employees not used to utilizing those services may have to rely on them. 

- Hydrate. 
Everything I have read has also said keep drinking water.  Water isn't exciting, but it's necessary.  Hydrate.  

- Just be careful. 
The concern for many of the younger population is spreading it to at-risk populations, so even if you don’t think it is affecting you, you could be an unknown carrier, so take the precautions you see others taking even if you don’t feel the adverse effects. 

Thank you. 

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