Vi Hart explains the four phase plan to re-open the US

Can you share the airport? I’m not going to push the point any further. I’m just very curious.

I’m curious about where you work too. Why don’t you post it publicly.


I am part owner of a business <20 ppl.

But where? What’s the name of your business?


Ha. I’m not that curious.

A small business owner / neighbor of mine showed up at his Los Angeles area office at 4:15 a.m. Pacific Time the morning the SBA program was to open. He waited until 8:00 a.m. Eastern Time to log in and submit his application. The first attempt timed out with an error message. The second attempt, a success. The serial number of his application was less then 10. No lawyer, no accountant, just someone who wanted to help his employees and save his business.


If I understood correctly, the early phases would allow restaurants to open at near full capacity–however it would be restricted to essential workers who have increased access to testing. It sounds like there would be reduced capacity during the middle-to-late phases as more groups could be served. This is the first time I’ve heard of an option that isn’t only reduced capacity and sounds like a way more viable business plan than reduced capacity and very conservative social distancing during meal service.

I don’t think there’s any way around most restaurants being really screwed. Their margins were thin and even reopening today wouldn’t bring back customers. Plus I’m sure the supply chain for food is whacked out. I’ve ordered takeout from a few favorite restaurants and I was a little bummed to see only two staff working (someone cooking and someone bagging and handing out orders). Last week one closed up until this blows over and I would expect more.

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I imagine maintaining a business is all about consistency and planning for short, medium and long term. I don’t see how random starts and stops help because there are leading and lagging effects with your supply chain and customers. Sadly, I don’t think many small restaurants have a viable business model anymore. Even if a vaccine was available today things have shifted so much.

The plan offered seem to allow the largest number of previously viable businesses to return to viability quickly. My understanding is that restaurants could open to almost previous capacity except they were only serving to essential workers with increased access to tests.

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Think of a healthy employment rate as the Titanic making it into New York harbor in time.

Now think of Covid 19 as the north atlantic. The goal of getting to new york on time, is not a bad goal. But getting them there alive is more important. Even maybe you could get the lifeboats there faster, by somehow throwing more people overboard, wouldn’t you rather get as many people home alive, as you possibly could? Even if doing so slowed you down some?

Edited to add: Businesses are not lifeboats in this analogy, not unless they are equipped to keep covid out.

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Well, small companies tend to have a lower financial ceiling. If containment measures allow it, they might need every opportunity to earn some money “in between” to keep afloat. Year-long plans are really more for medium and large companies. It’s not always in the interest of the employees, either. My employer, for example, has decreed a reduction of working hours (and wages of course) for the next 6 months, even though no significant decline in customer orders has manifested itself yet. That’s not due to lockdown measures - thankfully, our industry is pretty much work-from-home compatible - but due to the economic impact their accountants assume. Now, employees might wonder why they should sacrifice a good portion of their pay in advance, on what isn’t yet much more than a hunch. Will we get back something if we are so lucky to see the pandemic ebb sooner than expected, as a thank you for securing the owner’s profit? Of course we won’t. We’d much prefer something that is more closely linked to current business figures, and less crystal ball based.

You could set your clock by the grifting.

Domestic emoluments clause review needed.


One of the problems with the plan is that we don’t currently have the ability for large scale testings. We are lacking testing kits/swabs, reagents and consumables to run the tests and equipment/PCR machines set up and ready to use at testing companies. It is not clear when we will be able to roll out large scale testing for essential workers.

Also the testing we do have is not necessarily accurate as it is not clear what the false positive and negative rates are. Over time we should have better estimates of those numbers and we can work with the uncertainty or error in the tests but it is something we have to account for.

It is also not clear if we will be able to make better tests both for active infections and post infection antibody tests. I hope the scientific/medical community can but its not a done deal and there are technical aspects that can make good/accurate testing difficult.

As for making a vaccine there is no guarantee of success cf the HIV vaccine or lack thereof.

One last thought is that we should be wary of privilege given to “acclimatized citizens” who have survived Covid-19 and are temporarily free to conduct a normal work and social life. The privilege will be temporary as immunity is not expected to be life long and we hope that there is a vaccine but it will still exist for a year or so. At the moment I read that it is estimated that just 2 to 3% of the population has actually caught the virus.

I sincerely hope that we can roll out accurate large scale testing in a timely fashion and make a good vaccine. The current situation is depressing in the extreme and we need some good news.

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Instructions on how to use the BBS in this thread (I linked you to the relevant post):

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Probably the dishwashers. :frowning_face:


If you look in that link though, small business is defined differently by NAICS code. Some business types are defined by number of employees, up to 1,500 total. Others are defined by maximum revenue. For full-service restaurant, it says $8 million in annual revenue, with both Shake Shack and Ruth’s Chris exceed by a large margin. Ultimately though, the program was intended to keep people employed and off unemployment, and the only chance of that was for it to apply to the bigger companies as well. They just underfunded it. Estimates are that it needs at least $1T for that, so they’re adding more, but it still won’t be enough for everyone. The big companies got in first because of existing banking relationships and having accountants/lawyers on staff who were prepared with the paperwork necessary. Us small business owners had to find all the documents ourselves, and debate what some of the questions are asking for or whether a question applies to us or not. There were lots of people getting the word out, but not a lot of support for the process itself. Then most banks put it through their normal loan review process, which at our credit union, was nearly 2 weeks, only to be approved in time for the money to have run out. Other banks submitted the request to reserve the funds first, then put it through the review process. In either case, it is 100% guaranteed with minimal documentation required, so shouldn’t have required all that much on their parts. However, they were basically thrown into this by the government, most weren’t SBA lenders originally. It’s all just a mess. If this had happened a year ago, my business would have been closed already. This year we had some savings to use and continue to pay our employees, but that’s almost exhausted, so hoping PPP comes through soon.

I don’t see this as a “problem with the plan” so much as a “precondition for enacting the plan.”

If the government can’t deliver on large-scale testing (which they should have been able to develop the capacity to do weeks and weeks ago) then the rest of the plan for re-opening the country needs to stay on hold.


Yes - they are defined by employees- but there is an overall gross receipts cap for their programs even for those listed with only employees as the standard.

If memory serves - it’s $33.5 million for those sectors- mainly manufacturing and heavy highway and commercial building construction.

Other NAICS codes have much smaller gross receipts caps - $7million for many professional services - engineers were that also - but I think I remember that being raised recently.


I’d never be able to learn how to use it.

You’re right, its not a problem with the plan itself. Would have been better for me to to write “One of the problems with enacting the plan is that we don’t currently have the ability for large scale testings.”

Another of the problems is that a bunch of state governors are going to disregard all sensible advice and open their state up now, I’m looking at you Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia.

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