Small Biz' Navigating Pandemic Changes
Yesterday, the CDC announced fully vaccinated people can go out and about without wearing a mask. Today, businesses are scrambling to post on social media, requesting everyone continues wearing a mask in their establishment to deter any confusion. A mask-making company that's made a huge chunk of their living through the pandemic, posted a Reel saying "how do we know who has been vaccinated and who hasn't and aren't the people who don't want to wear masks also the people who don't want to get vaccinated?"
For the sake of damage control, a lot of businesses are having to address their concerns in response to the CDC's suprising announcement sooner than later.
Back in March, we actually made an Instagram post saying "To Mask or Not to Mask" with the question of this exact scenario as to how will businesses respond when the mask mandate is finally lifted and have they thought about it yet-
It was one of our least popular posts historically and perhaps at the time, nobody was ready to think about it yet. Perhaps most are just sick of talking about it, either way the day has come much sooner than projections anticipated. It also reveals that likely a large majority aren't quite ready to trust people will be honest about vaccinations.
Now that this scenario has played out, where do small businesses plan to go from here?
Questions we're all asking:
How much longer will we be asking customers to wear a mask in our establishment whether or not the CDC recommendations are changing?
Will people begin to exercise their rights to not have to mask anymore and become problematic?
Will we have to ask for a card showing proof of vaccinations like an ID?
Will people officially leave their work from-home jobs and go back to the offices and buildings they once shared with their co-workers?
Will traffic get worse than it already is if everyone does return to a daily commute again?
Are the businesses that depend on people to go to work such as restaurants near offices, finally feeling that sense of relief is near?
Are movie theaters now dusting off the popcorn makers?
So far this is how some small businesses in Tacoma, WA are navigating these challenges:
Red Elm Cafe in Hilltop, Tacoma hasn't opened for indoor seating even though Pierce County has moved in and out of phases allowing a social distanced percentage indoors. They mentioned today how they are still offering takeout and ask masks still be worn at their establishment.
Stoup Brewing asked customers still wear masks as they wait it out a bit longer and mention revisiting the mandate. Perhaps, waiting for "the smoke to clear" for lack of a better term.
And Destiny City Comics said they have children frequently visiting their store that aren't able to be vaccinated, therefore request masks still be worn.
It seems even if the mask mandate is easing, everyone is proceeding with caution and will likely play it safe for awhile. After all, only 36% of Americans are vaccinated at this point and a big percentage likely won't be getting theirs due to personal choice. A lot of workers are sharing the news that they will remain remote.
The Small Business Association said that remote work will continue to rise even after the pandemic. "Many small businesses shifted to part-time or full-time remote work schedules in response to local ordinances. According to a survey by Intermedia, 57% of small to medium-sized business owners said they will continue to offer remote work options in the long term. Depending on your type of business, you may need to consider offering remote work options to compete for talented workers in 2021 and beyond. This also means that you may need to invest in additional technology and software solutions going forward to ensure that your employees can telework. For example, another survey from GGV Capital shows that 54% of small business owners spent more on software solutions in 2020 than in 2019, and 75% expect that spending to increase next year."
Needless to say, none of this has been a walk in the park for small biz owners and making sure they are able to protect their assets and their customers will be a big shift as the world attempts to return to what we all remember as "normal". But there's one thing we can all agree on with a mask or no mask-
Small Businesses who've survived 2020 to now, are experts at adjusting to change.