U.S. cities and states preparing to reopen their economies have largely been left on their own to figure out how to do so. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce wants that to change.
On Tuesday, the Chamber sent a letter to governing bodies ranging from the White House to those at the local level, requesting coordination on health and safety guidance for reopening businesses. U.S. Chamber executive vice president and chief policy officer Neil Bradley and Florida Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Mark Wilson explained the rationale on a Tuesday conference call.
"To the extent that there can be coordination amongst federal, state, and local governments," Bradley said, "the smoother the process is going to be for businesses to come back to work, and the more confidence those employees and customers are going to have."
Recipients of the letter include the National Governors Association, the National Association of Counties, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
"We need a true North Star--one common set of guidelines that everybody can follow," Wilson said.
While the guidelines would help localities decide how to reopen, they would not advise when to do so, as different parts of the country have been impacted by the coronavirus to varying degrees. Beyond the general guidance that would apply to all businesses, the Chamber is also advocating for industry-specific guidance.
Bradley and Wilson noted that the Chamber is requesting guidelines, as opposed to enforceable regulations. It would be up to each business to execute on those guidelines. Bradley gave the example of guidance advising businesses to avoid congregations at entrances. A business would then have to decide how to implement the rules, on the basis of factors like the number of employees, the number of entry points, and whether it could stagger arrival times.
Of course, giving businesses the responsibility of policing themselves raises the possibility of companies executing poorly--or ignoring the guidelines entirely.
"Invariably, there's going to be a place that didn't get it right," Bradley said. "But I'm confident a lot more businesses are going to get it right when given the opportunity."