BUSINESS COMES ALIVE
Governor Evers pulled the lanyard on the Coronavirus cannon and fire and brimstone blasted out from the muzzle. The war’s still on, and casualties are still being incurred, although Walworth County and Lake Geneva itself have been spared most of the effects so far. The governor released the stranglehold on regular small businesses on Tuesday and the sleeping City of Lake Geneva came alive again. It’s not opened all the way. Restaurants are still limited to serving at curbside, take out, or through delivery. Gathering places like coffee shops and churches remain closed, for the most part. But the small business owners, all of whom had been terribly impacted by the two-month “safe-at-home” rule were able to get a partial restart. No more than five people to a store at any one time and those people must space themselves at least six feet apart. Masks are encouraged, at all stores, but not required to be worn, not yet anyway.
The big box stores and the grocery places that have dominated, as retail essential businesses no longer have a monopoly, and that is good news for everyone, not just the people who shop there. There is work. There are, and will be more jobs. There will be money flowing again, not just from the high pockets of the fearful wealthy. There will be a social release of tension, as more people can be among other people without the isolation of staying in parked cars, drinking bootlegged beer and wine, along with a bit of take-out chicken or burgers. So many people have been worried about the small businesses that make up the idyllic structure of downtown Lake Geneva. The “Main Street of Disney World” effect will quickly return, not that the effect of two months of intensely fearful retreat and actual hiding appears to be coming to an end.
The city council, on Monday night, quickly did a first and second reading of the new ordinance that will give police officers the opportunity to ticket any violator the police find to be deserving, instead of arresting and booking that violator for disturbing the peace or some other criminal charge. It’s a bad ordinance for a bad time, but there is relief in sight. With the opening of the businesses, even on a limited basis, there will be an enormous escape of social pressure from the main body of locals and visitors who have come to find Lake Geneva a great and rare place of small-town peace and beauty to hang out in to wait out the effects of the virus. Will the opening of businesses hold, or will a predicted “second wave” of virally infected return to shut everything down again? There is no qualitative answer to that question that quantitatively affects so many.
Charlene Klein continues to do a most creditable job in managing the parts of the city that she has authority over, and the new council is seemingly much more thoughtful and community-oriented than the old one, part of that, of course, due to Charlene’s influence. The mayor is not a salesperson or a flamboyant expressive by any means. She’s quiet, contemplative, and extremely intelligent. What a wonderful leader to take the city and its residents, and even its visitors, through such a difficult time period. Even with the city opening up again there are huge financial problems ahead.
Will the beach open and begin generating the kind of sizeable revenue that usually starts rolling in on Memorial Day? Will parking begin returning big bucks to the city treasury, a treasury that was short even before the attack of the virus? Will people pay their taxes on time so the city can get its share of that on time, as well? Even though there is a long way to go, at least these new moves on the part of the governor and the mayor allow us all to see some light at the end of the tunnel.