As restaurants, bars, gyms, entertainment venues and other small employers look forward to higher capacity limits and fewer restrictions starting April 4, there is a sense of optimism that the worst of this year-long COVID-19 nightmare may finally be behind us. However, reality tells us these and other small businesses will take years – not just weeks or months – to fully recover from the extraordinary struggles of the past year.

Many of these businesses had to take out loans just to cover payroll and keep the lights on. Many others had to sell off property and equipment, while others still were forced to delay critical expansions and upgrades. The perfect storm of supply chain disruptions, mandated business closures, increased costs for PPE and cleaning supplies, strict capacity limits, and reduced revenue dealt a fatal blow to many employers, forcing them to permanently close their doors, while others are holding on for dear life.

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