As a disclaimer, this is not a hard-hitting editorial criticizing a certain government’s direction or policy decision. We look forward to those critiques soon. In the meantime, this comes from this newspaper’s heart and in many ways is the exact opposite of what a newspaper editorial should represent. We don’t care. We need to work through what’s on our mind. Perhaps you do, too. Writing is how we do it in our line of work.
We are worried. We are concerned for our business community. Restaurants and bars are facing an unprecedented challenge in the days and weeks ahead. These businesses have been shuttered by the government due to the ongoing health crisis, but other operations able to be open have their own challenges. People are being ordered to stay home, be cautious and stay away from other people. While it’s right to curb the spread, social isolation will carry disastrous fiscal consequences for small businesses, governments, employees and families.
In our case, this newspaper will face the biggest financial challenge in its 36-year history over the coming weeks as dependable advertising revenue has evaporated with restaurants and bars being forced out of business temporarily the day before the bar holiday of St. Patrick’s Day. We, like the many restaurants managing scaled down carryout operations, will not be the same until this virus has run its course and government mandates are lifted. Our typical newspaper for this time of year is 80 pages. This week’s issue is 48 pages. We hope to get creative with our product in the coming weeks to continue serving this community, but 40% revenue losses for weeks will be impossible to shoulder.
We are needed to provide the news to our community. We will continue to do that online during the week and every Friday in print so long as we can. We can’t guarantee we will survive a long stretch like this in print. We might need to go online only at some point until this health scare has abated. Our printer might cease operations at some point to protect their employees. Anything can happen. That much we have learned over the last week. Adjustments must be made and tough decisions loom. We don’t know the path forward, but we will continue to be of service. It just might look different.
There is no road map out of this pandemic. It’s going to take time, which tourism-based resort businesses cannot spare right now.
The Ocean City community has gone through tough times before, namely after Mother Nature’s wrath. Those situations were rebuildable, however, and short lived. There was progress to be had each day in physically bouncing back and recovering the monetary loss associated with a lost week of revenue. The fallout of this pandemic is another matter altogether. This is going to require patience, maturity and balance. It’s unknown when all will be right. It’s this lack of clarity that makes obtaining the proper perspective and optimism the greatest challenge of our generation from an economic, psychological and wellness standpoint.
Rather than gearing up for the summer season, focusing on staffing and booking entertainment for summer weekends, many businesses are culling through websites for financial relief through government agencies. There can be no assumptions about anything currently.
In times like this when all seems off, we find comfort in faith. We do not wish to offend, but perhaps it will bring solace to many struggling today to come to terms with might be our new normal for some time to come. In times of extreme distress, we find comfort in knowing there is more at play in life than the material world. John 14:27 says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 16:33 says, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” Philippians 4:6 says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done.”
Dramatic is not in our nature as a media company. However, after speaking with multiple business owners this week bracing for the realities to come, we know the stress of life right now is real and intense. Though we are concerned and unsure of many facets of our own business operations, we will overcome through seeking new opportunities. It’s survival mode.
Some type of normal will eventually return. It might not be this summer. There might not be a real tourism season this year. It’s a scary proposition. We hope it’s not the case. We optimistically dream by Memorial Day all will be right. We realize though it might be more like the Fourth of July. It’s impossible to know today and it’s disheartening.
Amid this apprehension and doubt, our hope for all is peace, understanding, health, optimism and patience. We will get through this hell in time. Until more promising days come, we will be thinking about and praying for everyone in our business community as well as the mental, physical and social well-being of our populace. We will be ready to rally to help as soon as safely able.