RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — A group of 29 business trade associations in the state are petitioning Gov. Ralph Northam to include more “transparency and democratic processes” in his decisions to reopen the state in phases.
The state is in the process of reopening various amenities, businesses and services after much of it shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The group of organizations sent a letter to Northam Thursday asking for more inclusion of public comments, voting bodies and public notice.
The coalition also asked for the state to give employers “ample” notice before revisions to operating orders are made.
“Virginia’s businesses have committed to the most stringent public health and safety protocols to protect employees and customers from COVID-19 infections while continuing to provide access to needed products and services. However, as the Commonwealth has now set a precedent by which individual local political leaders may unilaterally alter a locality’s progression into Safer at Home: Phase I, it has created uncertainty and exacerbated the economic crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, the signatories to this letter listed below request that any delegation of authority to local government must include the highest ideals of the democratic process.”
The pandemic has caused “devastating losses” for many businesses in the state, and “some of them are being help back by their local governments,” said Nicole Riley, Virginia state director of the National Federation of Independent Business.
“It’s a great concern for our members in Northern Virginia and Richmond that remain closed as their competitors in surrounding areas reopen. Many of them did not have enough to pay rent or utilities these last 12 weeks, and things like curbside carryout and online sales only help so much. If local governments are going to change re-opening plans, they need to do it with a transparent process where businesses can make their voices heard,” Riley said.
The coalition also voiced its opposition to allowing any local government to reverse the progression between phases 1 and 3.