By Naomi Mauvais

Op-Ed

Families everywhere have struggled immensely throughout the pandemic this year. With offices and schools closed for much of the year, parents and children had to recalibrate their daily routines to function from home offices or kitchen tables. Others still had to navigate the challenges of long-term unemployment and found themselves questioning how they will be able to make their next rent payment.

Now, however, with a better understanding of how COVID-19 is being spread, we can keep many businesses both here in California and across the rest of the country open and provide a much-needed spark for local economies while also protecting public health.

This is a fact California’s leaders demonstrated that they recognize with some of their new precautionary COVID-19 rules. Retail businesses and indoor shopping malls, which have taken a host of preventative steps to keep their stores safe, such as requiring anyone in a store to wear a mask, monitoring for social distancing, and more, were allowed to continue operating under a 20 percent capacity limit. Much to the relief of California’s parents like myself, even playgrounds have been reopened after officials realized it was possible to do so safely.

These actions show that prominent leaders in California like Governor Gavin Newsom, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and others are ready and willing to follow the science on this issue and make sure our families and communities can begin recovering from the unfathomable difficulties they have already faced this year. The retail businesses that have been allowed to remain open play a vital role in local economies across California and will be a key part of our recovery.

When retail businesses were forced to shut down in the spring, it contributed to sky-high unemployment numbers across the state, and projections are anticipating a long road to recovery. By allowing retail stores that are taking the right precautions to keep customers safe to stay open, leaders across California will doubtlessly help facilitate that eventual recovery by alleviating struggles for those who were disproportionately affected by earlier shutdowns, like hourly workers and minority communities.

Beyond this, permitting retail stores to remain open also shows that California’s leaders realize that closures should not be based on what a store sells, but rather what it is doing to protect its customers and employees. With the safety measures that retail stores have implemented since reopening, they have been able to continue serving California families and offering the goods they need.

Small businesses, which were already facing an uncertain future after earlier retail shutdowns, will also be better equipped to face the challenges that still lie

ahead. These small businesses are indispensable to California’s communities, and providing an avenue for more of them to remain open is the smart decision.

Of course, retail businesses also provide a large amount of tax revenue both for cities and the state as a whole. With those funds in hand, California can make sure that the social programs responsible for alleviating the harm caused by the pandemic will be fully financed, and the Californians who have been most affected can have a bit more assurance in their ability to provide for their families.

It is important that leaders like Governor Newsom and Mayor Garcetti continue to follow what the science has shown about retail businesses and allow them to remain open. That way, struggling families across our state will be better positioned to get back on their feet and begin recovering from this pandemic. The result will be a stronger economy for the entire state, and our long road to recovery will become shorter.

Naomi Mauvais is a Certified Early Childhood Development Professional in Altadena, CA