(This story from March 25 corrects paragraph 11 to show that Sean Kennedy represents the National Restaurant Association)
By Diane Bartz
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump wants America to get back to work by Easter, suggesting that some efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus epidemic will no longer be necessary by then, but Corporate America is taking the head of health professionals.
The president, concerned about the economic repercussions of a prolonged closure of non-essential business, said Tuesday in a television interview that he wished to see the companies returning to normal by Easter or April 12.
“I would love for the country to open up and prepare for Easter,” he said on Fox News Channel.
But the American Chamber of Commerce, the National Retail Federation and the National Restaurant Association have highlighted the less optimistic recommendations from public health officials. Many of them have urged Americans to stay at home as much as possible for weeks to prevent the spread of the virus.
“It’s difficult. I think it would be easier to accept this as something I would be comfortable doing if I thought it would not cost lives, “said Melanie Krautstrunk, who owns a brew pub in Tennessee, about reopening by Easter.
A total of 53,541 Americans tested positive for the virus and 730 died. State governors, mainly on the northeast and west coasts, have ordered the closure of non-essential schools and businesses to prevent the spread of the disease.
As a result, the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits has jumped the most since 2012 to a peak of two and a half years as service companies laid off workers, the department announced on Thursday. work.
Despite this, the mighty American Chamber of Commerce said it followed the advice of healthcare professionals.
“We urge all businesses and the public to listen to public health officials on social distancing. We believe we should return to work as soon as we can in a safe and responsible manner, ”said Neil Bradley, director of policy for the United States Chamber of Commerce, in an email release.
David French of the National Retail Federation described the situation as “very fluid” and of indefinite duration. They encourage retailers to follow the advice of the CDC and other health experts.
National Restaurant Association chief Sean Kennedy said, “The challenge will really be whether restaurants can even open at this point if we don’t have an audience that wants to go out.”
Krautstrunk of Chattanooga expected 2020 to be the year that the 5-year-old brewery she founded with her husband would become profitable.
Hutton & Smith Brewing Co has received orders from Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee. But the coronavirus dealt a “fatal blow” to the company, said Krautstrunk, forcing it to close the slum room, lay off five employees and cut the wages of the other 17, while orders increased.
When asked if it would reopen if Trump posts advice suggesting they open by Easter, Krautstrunk said the decision would not be easy.
“Personally, I’m more concerned with the economy than my health at this point. But I’m not going to die. I’m really worried about my mom. And I don’t want to just try to open a business carelessly and see something terrible happen to him if this disease gets out of hand, ”she said.
Report by Diane Bartz, Alexandra Alper, David Lawder and Hilary Russ; edited by Diane Craft