Buy lo­cal

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - OPINIONS - — Pamela Stall­smith

Not only are we fac­ing a pub­lic health cri­sis, but we’re also con­fronting an eco­nomic emer­gency. The global coro­n­avirus pan­demic has thrown fi­nan­cial mar­kets into a tail­spin. In Vir­ginia, un­prece­dented re­stric­tions in­tended to con­tain the spread of COVID-19 went into ef­fect Wed­nes­day for 30 days — and could last longer.

Gath­er­ings of more than 10 peo­ple are banned. That’s proved to be dev­as­tat­ing to restau­rants, which are strug­gling to sur­vive amid the up­heaval in their in­dus­try. It’s hard to know ex­actly how many of the ap­prox­i­mate 1,000 full-service restau­rants in the city of Richmond and Ch­ester­field, Hanover and Hen­rico coun­ties have con­verted to take­out-only, though anec­do­tal in­for­ma­tion sug­gests a large num­ber.

How­ever, car­ry­out-only service brings in a frac­tion of the money that usu­ally flows. Many restau­rants might not re­cover, not to men­tion all the em­ploy­ees who have lost their jobs.

Other small busi­nesses have shut­tered or cur­tailed their hours, fac­ing fi­nan­cial un­cer­tainty. There’s a way we can help: Spend money lo­cally. As the Thomas Jefferson In­sti­tute for Pub­lic Pol­icy noted, “The best way to mod­er­ate the eco­nomic drop is to keep cash flow­ing through the econ­omy.”

The in­sti­tute of­fers sev­eral sug­ges­tions for help­ing your lo­cal econ­omy.

Or­der take­out or pick up food from your lo­cal restau­rants. And heav­ily tip the de­liv­ery driver or the per­son who brings you the food at the es­tab­lish­ment. Buy gift cards for a lo­cal restau­rant, book­store or other fa­vorite re­tailer. Buy online, not from a cor­po­rate gi­ant. Many lo­cal stores of­fer vir­tual shop­ping. Do the pro­ject you’ve been putting off, whether it’s land­scap­ing, a car re­pair or a home im­prove­ment.

As the coro­n­avirus con­tin­ues to spread, we need to abide by the state’s re­stric­tions. Keep prac­tic­ing so­cial dis­tanc­ing and stay home if pos­si­ble. Wash your hands fre­quently. But it’s also im­por­tant to sup­port your neigh­bor­hood restau­rants and re­tail­ers. Buy lo­cal.

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