Commentary: State businesses can safely open their doors

Just as grocery stores have safely operated, more businesses in the state should be allowed to reopen.

By Mike Sotelo / For The Herald

On April 7, Gov. Jay Inslee announced a $5 million small business grant program to help business in Washington state. While it will help, it doesn’t go far enough.

The Ethnic Chamber of Commerce Coalition (ECCC) represents minority businesses in the Greater Seattle region. There are more than 39,000 minority- and ethic-owned businesses in the Puget Sound region. This is just a portion of the total businesses in the state. Simple math tells us that the $5 million fund would net about $128 per business for each of the 39,000 minority businesses locally; put another way, less than $10 per business for the more than half-million small businesses in Washington state.

The state needs to do more, but not through more handouts.

While state-defined essential businesses continue to stay open, the decision to keep other business closed that could re-open with reasonable safety guidelines, needs to be re-considered. This will be the biggest help to the small business in Washington. Many of these businesses are essential to the families, employees and communities they support.

Washington state has done a good job of limiting the spread of the virus, and infection rates have slowed. The University of Washington medical professionals reporting data at, are predicting within the next week that the daily infection rates for COVID-19 will significantly fall. This doesn’t mean, however, that the state must wait until the very end of April before considering allowing some low-risk industries to return to work.

There are several industries that, with social distancing and other precautions, will be able to create a safe work environment and prevent any resurgence of the virus.

The construction industry, retailers, restaurants and service industries can re-open with distance and occupancy guidelines. Many construction sites, for public contracts, are already open for business and employers and employees have demonstrated they can be responsible. The private construction industry can do the same.

Essential retailers are already following the COVID-19 guidelines, and this should be extended to all retailers. For other, office-based businesses, they could keep employees working from home and some in the office, limiting in-person meetings.

There is opportunity to restart the economy without making the crisis worse.

Business opening as soon as possible, with some guidelines, is a measured approach to help our economy get back on track as soon as possible.

At ECCC, returning to work and re-starting the economy is paramount for our members and the communities we serve.

Mike Sotelo is president of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of King County and a board member for the Ethnic Chambers of Commerce Coalition. He lives in Bellevue.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Opinion

Editorial cartoons for Thursday, April 18

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Snow dusts the treeline near Heather Lake Trailhead in the area of a disputed logging project on Tuesday, April 11, 2023, outside Verlot, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Editorial: Move ahead with state forests’ carbon credit sales

A judge clears a state program to set aside forestland and sell carbon credits for climate efforts.

State needs to assure better rail service for Amtrak Cascades

The Puget Sound region’s population is expected to grow by 4 million… Continue reading

Trump’s own words contradict claims of Christian faith

In a recent letter to the editor regarding Christians and Donald Trump,… Continue reading

Comment: Israel should choose reasoning over posturing

It will do as it determines, but retaliation against Iran bears the consequences of further exchanges.

Comment: Ths slow but sure progress of Brown v. Board

Segregation in education remains, as does racism, but the case is a milestone of the 20th century.

A new apple variety, WA 64, has been developed by WSU's College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences. The college is taking suggestions on what to name the variety. (WSU)
Editorial: Apple-naming contest fun celebration of state icon

A new variety developed at WSU needs a name. But take a pass on suggesting Crispy McPinkface.

Liz Skinner, right, and Emma Titterness, both from Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County, speak with a man near the Silver Lake Safeway while conducting a point-in-time count Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, in Everett, Washington. The man, who had slept at that location the previous night, was provided some food and a warming kit after participating in the PIT survey. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Editorial: Among obstacles, hope to curb homelessness

Panelists from service providers and local officials discussed homelessness’ interwoven challenges.

FILE - In this photo taken Oct. 2, 2018, semi-automatic rifles fill a wall at a gun shop in Lynnwood, Wash. Gov. Jay Inslee is joining state Attorney General Bob Ferguson to propose limits to magazine capacity and a ban on the sale of assault weapons. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
Editorial: ‘History, tradition’ poor test for gun safety laws

Judge’s ruling against the state’s law on large-capacity gun clips is based on a problematic decision.

This combination of photos taken on Capitol Hill in Washington shows Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., on March 23, 2023, left, and Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., on Nov. 3, 2021. The two lawmakers from opposing parties are floating a new plan to protect the privacy of Americans' personal data. The draft legislation was announced Sunday, April 7, 2024, and would make privacy a consumer right and set new rules for companies that collect and transfer personal data. (AP Photo)
Editorial: Adopt federal rules on data privacy and rights

A bipartisan plan from Sen. Cantwell and Rep. McMorris Rodgers offers consumer protection online.

Students make their way through a portion of a secure gate a fence at the front of Lakewood Elementary School on Tuesday, March 19, 2024 in Marysville, Washington. Fencing the entire campus is something that would hopefully be upgraded with fund from the levy. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Editorial: Levies in two north county districts deserve support

Lakewood School District is seeking approval of two levies. Fire District 21 seeks a levy increase.

Editorial cartoons for Wednesday, April 17

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.