By: Felipe Rivas
5 min read September 2020 — After reflecting on the social and economic achievements of American workers, Palm Beach County is ready to allow more workers to get back to work. For the first time since March, the majority of Palm Beach County industries will be allowed to reopen Tuesday after Gov. Ron DeSantis agreed to the easing of coronavirus-related business restrictions.The county now sits in Phase 2 of its multistep reopening plan, which will allow movie theaters, bowling alleys, playhouses and other entertainment venues to reopen following Labor Day weekend.
Businesses will still limit the number of customers served at one time and will continue to enforce social distancing guidelines. Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner said that 95% of businesses will be operational in some fashion, according to the Patch.
Unemployment rates remained under 4% in the county for all of 2019 and the start of 2020, consistently dipping to under 3% in that time span, according to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics. From March to April, unemployment shot up from 4% to almost 15% as shelter-in-place measures were implemented locally and throughout the state and nation. Since April, unemployment rates have dipped, hitting about 10% in July as the economy began to carefully open up. The rate is currently at 11.6%.
“We remain focused on preserving a healthy community and a vibrant way of life for our hometown,” Kerner told Invest: Palm Beach. “Our outlook is ensuring we remind this community every day that it takes a village to get through this. It is not going to happen without continued cooperation, passion and civic duty on behalf of our constituents, our neighbors and our friends. If we achieve that, the outlook will be excellent,” he said.
As the county enters Phase 2, lessons learned from the pandemic may help drive future economic development in the region. “We all want to safely get back to doing the everyday tasks but this will take a slow and steady approach,” Boca Raton Economic Development Manager Jessica Del Vecchio told Invest: Palm Beach, echoing the mayor’s sentiments. “Today, with technology, we’ve learned we can work from anywhere. This will allow us to continue to attract new companies from out of state, especially now that we’ve been forced to test the work from home concept for many months,” she said.
Continuing to observe health and social distancing guidelines will be key as the economy continues to open up. “It’s important that we make sure we are ready and comfortable for the upcoming reopening of businesses, schools and local community events,” Del Vecchio said. “We should bear in mind that everyone has different boundaries and comfort levels, so the recovery could vary drastically from one person or location to another. Over the next six months, it will be interesting to see what changes occur as we start getting back to everyday happenings. I hope the simpler joys that we rediscovered during the shelter in place order will remain.”
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