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Small-business survey respondents oppose May 1 reopening; schools to remain closed

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Over half of the small-business owners surveyed by the Businesses for Responsible Tax Reform — co-chaired by Frank Knapp, CEO of the S.C. Small Business Chamber of Commerce — are opposed to reopening the economy on May 1.

During a snap survey (.pdf) conducted from April 17 to April 20, 58% of 530 small-business owners across the nation agreed that May 1 was too early to open, while 64% felt that the government should prioritize stopping the infection over jump-starting the economy, according to a news release. Respondents tended to rely on scientists and health care professionals for social distancing counsel at 71%, while 15% trusted the administration’s guidance the most and 13% put most of their trust in state and local government.

About half of the respondents who have shuttered their businesses because of COVID-19 reported that they were hesitant to reopen by May 1 out of concern for their employees’ and customers’ safety, according to the release. Of the 68% of respondents who reported applying for the Paycheck Protection Program, about 15% reported that they had received the money, and 28% had been approved.

“Small-business owners are hurting from the economic fallout of COVID-19, but they are clearly more worried about getting this pandemic under control than a wholesale opening up of the economy on an artificial deadline,” Knapp said in the release.

On Monday, S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster removed restrictions on some nonessential businesses. Some retail businesses that had been restricted from in-house commerce in an April 3 executive order — including furniture and home-furnishings stores, florists, flea markets, book and arts merchants, sporting goods stores, clothing accessories and leather goods merchants, and department stores — were able to reopen after 5 p.m. Monday.

Today, McMaster announced that state public schools would remain closed for the rest of the school year. S.C. Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman joined McMaster for the announcement and said it was the right decision.

"In this very historic pandemic, we have been able to carry on really good instruction" online, Spearman said. She said she spoke with around 4,000 teachers in a conference call a few days ago, with 80% reporting they were pleased with the quality of online instruction. 

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April 23, 2020

I would like to see this survey. Interesting.

April 23, 2020

The percentages of people in favor of re-opening businesses are not really at the heart of the matter. This is about restoring freedom of choice for business owners and clients. Any business owner who opposes re-opening the economy is free to remain closed. And no one is forcing any customers to patronize the businesses that do open. BUT by removing the restrictions on businesses, the business owner's freedom of ownership and control that is part of America is restored. Now individuals can choose and that's a basic freedom in the US. OBTW, I'd really be much more interested in the parent's perception of the quality of education being delivered online. Teachers are employees. Let's see what the customers think.

April 23, 2020

So let me get this straight it was a survey done to 530 small businesses across the nation. First, this is a very small population and second who recieved this survey? Need to be careful on who performed the survey and what the pool of selected businesses were.

April 23, 2020

Would love to see the list of small businesses surveyed and where they are located. Can that be provided??

April 23, 2020

The second comment is spot on. This is about freedom. This country was built on freedom and personal liberty. Similarly, I was against the government enforced smoking ban in businesses for the very same reason -- and I do not smoke nor do I want to be in a smoke filled room. If a business chose to allow smoking, customers who don't want to be around smoke can shop, dine or drink elsewhere. That's part of the beauty of freedom. The way we the people have willingly asked the government to usurp our freedom is a woeful precedent.

April 23, 2020

No one is forcing anyone to reopen. No one is forcing customers through the door. Why are you mixing SC and national survey results? How heavily was the survey weighted to New York City? Media based in DC, LA and NYC. That’s not the real world.

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