Seattle has ‘long, slow climb’ ahead once coronavirus crisis ends

Apr 10, 2020, 12:37 PM

coronavirus, economy, social distancing, Seattle, small business...

In this March 6, 2020 photo, the area near Pike Place Fish Market at the Pike Place Market in Seattle is nearly devoid of root traffic and crowds at the close of the day. The market, which is popular with tourists and locals alike, has seen crowds thin as some workers stay home and work remotely, and some tourists cancel trips over worry about COVID-19. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Much like many other major cities across the U.S., Seattle’s economy has ground to a halt in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak. In the days ahead, digging itself out of that will likely be a tall order.

Seattle economy struggles at ‘epicenter’ of coronavirus outbreak

“I think it’s gonna be a long, slow climb out,” Downtown Seattle Association President Jon Scholes told KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross. “I don’t think we can expect that July and August are going to look anything close to what normal July and August looks like in downtown Seattle.”

The state continues to operate under a stay-at-home order issued by Gov. Jay Inslee, while businesses deemed non-essential have been forced to shut their doors.

That’s part of what Scholes describes as a sort of economic “induced coma,” but also a necessary measure if the city is to successfully return to normal in the future. And while some have emphasized the need to get the economy reopened sooner than later, that largely depends on when that can be safely accomplished.

“I think we can’t peel back the social distancing measures too soon, or we’re going to be right back where we started here in early March and have to repeat this exercise,” Scholes cautioned. “If that takes a little bit longer than we otherwise would like, I think it’s time well spent.”

In terms of more short term measures for struggling businesses, Scholes points to a sizable amount of federal and state-level resources recently made available.

UW modelers working to figure out when country can reopen

That includes a $350 billion paycheck protection program, webinars the DSA has been holding with leaders in the banking industry, and an additional $600 a week made available to people filing for unemployment.

“The city should be focused on doing everything they can to access the historic federal resources that have been approved in [Washington] D.C. for city governments, for state governments, for workers, small businesses, and nonprofits,” said Scholes.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Seattle has ‘long, slow climb’ ahead once coronavirus crisis ends