To be sure, there might be no business model that could rescue some industries but others might be able to survive. Contrast, for example, movie theaters with restaurants.
At this stage, the government couldn’t pay people to go to the movies (and shouldn’t try) because everyone knows that huddling with strangers in a dark, enclosed space for two hours is asking for trouble. Regal Theaters has permanently closed its doors and AMC, the country’s biggest theater chain, is on the verge of following suit.
But the restaurant industry found a way to hang on. Many eateries shifted their operations outdoors or switched to takeout and implemented all kinds of other safe practices. They mandated masks and switched to disposable or scannable menus to minimize contact. Some even check patrons’ temperatures before allowing them in. The industry still experienced a 27 percent loss of business, but the real challenge will be in winter when outside dining becomes difficult in much of northern U.S. Restaurants then will have to scramble and experiment with all kinds of new strategies, including plexiglas cubicles, to remain in business.
At this stage, just as unhelpful as government lockdowns are political leaders who pan such innovations. There is enough public awareness to make a more laissez-faire approach to coronavirus workable, provided that the powers-that-be don’t actively lead people astray, by encouraging them to attend super-spreading events, for example, or ditching masks.