"Hey Stella, how are you?" Annie said, waving to her friend over Zoom.
"I'm doing ok, just working on Mr. Jay's English essay right now. But I'm so bored" Stella replied.
"Girl, me too. I wanted to ask, is your dad's bbq place going to reopen this Friday?" Annie asked.
"No, he doesn't feel that it is very safe. Why? Is your mom planning on reopening her restaurant?"
"Yeah, we need the money. We both understand how bad this epidemic is, but we're basically out of money and we need to open as soon as we can" Annie explained.
A long pause occurred between the two friends.
"What do your employers think about your dad keeping the bbq closed Stella?"
"They think that it's a good idea, especially since they have families themselves, and I completely understand that. As I just said, I think it's way too early to have businesses like ours reopen again, it's just too risky. Regulated retail shops maybe, but restaurants, where people gather, it's too much. That's why my dad is staying closed"
"But don't your workers have to get paid though. I mean, that's why my mom is opening her restaurant on Friday. Yes, we know the risks, but we have to pay our bills, and so do our employees. I think it would be greedy for us to not to reopen, since it would prevent our employees from being paid. At least if we reopened, and put some regulation into our restaurant, then some of our employees can be paid. Then they can better feed their families, that sounds more fair doesn't it?" Annie asked.
Stella paused, then replied, "Annie, I do see your point, and it is horrible, like incredibly bad that people are suffering from severe economic struggles. But by reopening services such as restaurants, barbershops, tattoo parlors, and more, not only do we put our parents in jeopardy, but their employees too. I mean, imagine this; if employees are called back to work during an epidemic, yet they refuse to do so because they would feel unsafe, they would be fired. Then they would literally be unemployed again during an epidemic, with even further uncertainty of where another job is going to come from"
"Yeah Stella, I understand, but-"
"And, by having restaurants such as your mom's opening, that then essentially gives the "okay" to landlords to start charging rent on our businesses again. And by doing that, this will further damage people and small businesses that do not feel safe reopening during an epidemic. This is what I mean" Stella said.
"So basically you're saying, if we reopen, we either have the choice of risking being exposed to the Coronavirus, which could kill us, or facing further financial and economic ruin?" Annie said.
"Exactly, and sadly that's not even an exaggeration" Stella added.
"Wow, I didn't think about it like that" Annie said. "I'll see if I can talk to my mom about it"
The call ended peacefully, and the two girls went their separate ways without any grudge against one another for their differences on the issue at hand. Yet their parents reacted in completely different ways.
Friday, April 24th, 2020: Atlanta, GA
"Hi Stella, just letting you know again that I will not be reopening the bbq place for awhile, not until we actually see the number of cases go down. Is that alright?" Stella's father asked.
"That's totally fine dad, I get it, do what you think is best".
"Great, I'll email the employees and let them know"
"Annie, please take our welcome sign to the front of our restaurant. We want to make sure that people know that we are open, ok?" Annie's mother asked.
"Yes mom, will do" her daughter replied, carrying the heavy yet pretty sign outside, and setting it down by the entrance of the restaurant.
She took a pause and looked out; she was happy to see some people, yet she found her little suburban downtown to be desolate. "This doesn't feel right," she thought to herself.
A couple of hours later, her and her mother were happy to see that the restaurant was seemingly crowded again. When Annie saw a small group waiting by the door to be seated, she rushed over to them.
"Hi everyone, party of four?"
"Yes, that sounds great"
As the group sat down at the table, one of them started to cough, then sniffled. Yet the room did not erupt in silence, and people continued as they did before the epidemic.
"Don't worry, I just have allergies, I would know if I had Corona if I had it?" the man with "allergies" replied.
Annie smiled politely but fakely, trying to hide her extreme discomfort and paranoia she would face for the next couple of months, worrying about the risk of customers giving her and her family, COVID-19.
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