By: Andrea and Jack Carnevale, Op-Ed in the Union Leader
WE HAVE written the Governor’s Economic Re-Opening Task Force many times, but Gov. Chris Sununu is deaf to the lodging and restaurant industry pleas to open. The Task Force recommended the opening of hotels on 5/22, but he chose not to listen to them either.
When Gov. Sununu closed the state on March 17, we of course closed the Bedford Village Inn, causing great emotional pain. But our industry supported the stay-at-home order because we wanted to help keep the virus under control in New Hampshire. Initially, the closure was for 2 weeks, but now it has been 10 weeks with no end in sight.
Our restaurant is only open for takeaway and outdoor dining. This isn’t being open because we cannot sustain our business on such little revenue. We are not allowed indoor dining, functions of at least 125, and our hotel continues to be completely closed; and worse still is that there is no timeline on when these limitations will end.
Only the Paycheck Protection Program is keeping us open and in a few weeks that will end and we will be laying off all hotel and function employees once again. We are now paying a lot of staff to stay at home. If inside dining is not allowed soon, we will also be scaling down restaurant staff.
Hotels and restaurants are very well equipped and managed to control customer behavior and ensure that all safety guidelines are met. Guests who have come to our patio or the outdoor dining at the Grand have been so happy to be enjoying a meal at a restaurant with other people. People are starving to get back to normal and they have shown they can do it safely because we enforce Task Force and CDC safety guidelines.
I don’t understand why hotels cannot open. After all, guests are in their own rooms and when they dine they are social distancing, they would not be allowed to congregate in lobbies, etc. All the restrictions would be easy for us to manage.
The goal of the stay-at-home order is to prevent hospital overcrowding, which has been accomplished. It was never a policy goal to eliminate all cases of COVID-19, which is impossible and illogical when 99% of infected people have no significant symptoms. We now know who we need to protect, the most vulnerable, and we need to do that while allowing those at less risk to get back to normal. Rational thinking must prevail to reassure the public and get our economy going again. We should not depend on hypothetical projections with this virus, they have all been proven wrong. There is too much at stake to risk everyone’s well-being by not getting our state open.
It has taken us 30 years to build the Bedford Village Inn & Restaurant and the governor’s policy of keeping us closed is destroying it. We cannot go on much longer being closed or we may have to shut our doors forever. We implore the governor to change his restrictive policies and help our industry and our people by opening hotels and allowing indoor dining and functions. The state will greatly benefit while still being able to protect the vulnerable.
Andrea and Jack Carnevale own The Bedford Village Inn & Restaurant and live in Bedford.