As you know, the Governor recently announced that the state will be ready to move to Phase 3 as of May 29th, allowing retail stores to reopen their doors with capacity limitations. Ever since this was first mentioned as a possibility at Pritzker's press conference on the 14th, we've cycled through a wide range of emotions. When this all started, it was traumatic and terrifying to have to close our doors indefinitely. We didn't think we'd last a week, much less 2 months.
So, you'd have to assume that we'd be chomping at the bit to throw our doors open to the public again. But frankly, our first--and still our strongest gut reaction--is this: It's too soon.
Being in charge of the well-being of our team at The Book Table during a pandemic has been the most challenging moral struggle that we have ever taken on. Trying to do right by our staff in terms of both their physical and financial security has not been easy, and we made mistakes along the way. And honestly, our biggest regret is not closing to the public sooner.
The metrics by which our government is calculating moving on to Phase 3 is not whether it's safe to reopen, but whether or not there are enough hospital beds to accommodate us all when we reopen. We don't want to be responsible for filling hospital beds.
Realistically, we can't hold out forever, but frankly, even if we were to unlock our doors this Friday, we don't foresee a major difference in our bottom line. Lake Street is still torn up, the movie theater is still shuttered, office workers are still telecommuting, and the pandemic continues. The foot traffic on our block will likely continue to consist almost entirely of construction crews and GrubHub drivers for the foreseeable future, so it just makes it easier for us to err on the side of safety.
Don't get us wrong--we would love nothing more than to see all of your faces again (or at least your eyes and foreheads!) to chat with you about books and movies and politics. But we have a greater obligation to the wellbeing of our staff, our community, and ourselves, and we do not take it lightly. So for now, we have decided to push any consideration of reopening to the public back to June 12th, two weeks after the date set by the governor. As we follow the news over the next couple of weeks, we hope that we can make a more informed decision and come up with a plan to reopen gradually and safely.
So here's what we're asking of you, if you're able. Please continue to support us, ordering books over the phone and on the website. Donate if you can--our sales over the last week have been...quiet. If you purchased gift cards for later use in March and April, please continue to hold onto them if you can. Even with curbside pickup in place, things are nowhere near back to normal yet. And finally, stay home as much as you're able, be safe and keep flattening the curve.