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.