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I own a small business that’s hurting because of the outbreak; instead of a check, could we put our bills on hold? | READER COMMENTARY

Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. "Jack" Young declares a local state of emergency because of the coronavirus, effective at 12:01 p.m. on March 18. There are at least five confirmed cases in Baltimore, officials say, with evidence of community transmission.
Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. "Jack" Young declares a local state of emergency because of the coronavirus, effective at 12:01 p.m. on March 18. There are at least five confirmed cases in Baltimore, officials say, with evidence of community transmission. (Talia Richman)

I, with my sister, own a couple ice cream stores in Anne Arundel and Prince George’s counties. And, yes, the recent COVID-19 mandates and the rumored mandates will hurt, if not kill, small businesses (“Maryland saw a five-fold jump in unemployment claims this week. Here’s what you need to know if you get laid off,” March 18). These are unprecedented times that call for unprecedented solutions to keep the economy alive.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not against the federal government throwing thousand-dollar checks our way, but that will do nothing to help us keep our businesses, homes and assets. With so much confusion and so much unknown, I would be afraid to spend that money. The government is asking us to put our lives on hold for an undetermined amount of time. For most of us, that means no job and, therefore, no income for the foreseeable future. How will we pay our mortgages, rent, electric, credit card bills, car payments, insurance payments and the like? What good is a $1,000 check? Yes, I may use it to eat and continue to take any necessary medication but that is about it.

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A better solution would be to put all bills and financial obligations on hold. Meaning have a federal mandate that all lenders, banks, utility companies, mortgage companies, insurance companies and landlords suspend any money owed for the next three months without any penalty or interest. If we don’t have to worry about paying our bills, then we could better live at peace while we wait this pandemic out. Just put all financial obligations on hold for people and businesses alike for three months. Then just resume the financial obligations when we are all back to work.

Any institution that could not afford to comply would seek assistance in the form of subsidies from the government. That way the government will not have to waste all our tax dollars in stimulation checks and we will not lose everything we worked so hard for.

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Mark Pringle, Edgewater

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