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'Every single day that we don't do that, small businesses die' | Charlotte councilman proposes this reopening idea

Charlotte City Council Member Tariq Bokhari weighs in on the debate over lives and livelihoods.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The discussion over when and how to reopen the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic is coming to a head in the Carolinas.

Hundreds of protesters with the group ReOpen NC marched in Raleigh Tuesday, demanding to return to work by May 1. Governor Roy Cooper has promised more information this week about how the easing of stay-at-home restrictions could go. 

South Carolina has already begun loosening executive orders this week, allowing retail stores to open and beaches, too -- at the discretion of local governments.

Moves to reopen some sectors of society have been met with fear and concern from some.

Haley Hall, who lives in Lancaster, South Carolina, says the recently-eased restrictions in South Carolina give her pause and so does the push to reopen across the border to the north.

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"We have to be extra cautious with this," said Hall.

Hall's father and stepmother are sick with the coronavirus, and the impacts were bad enough to send her stepmother to the ICU for several days. Having seen how the virus can ravage health. Hall is worried it might be too soon to start reopening.

"The numbers may continue to rise back up again because it's going to be lifted and everybody's going to be around each other all over again," Hall said.

RELATED: 'It's a very hard decision' | SC business owners debate reopening after governor lifts restrictions for retail stores

Meantime, many business owners are asking how much longer they need to hold on. As unemployment claims surge and small business rescue funding dry up, the financial situation for many grows dire.

Charlotte City Council Member Tariq Bokhari (R-District 6) says common ground in this debate needs to be reached -- and fast.

"After all these weeks, I got to a point where I felt like we were trying to reconfigure some kind of boat that we were all in for the new normal and it was still sinking," said Bokhari. "It was just that feeling... of frustration, of I don't understand, like we're moving deck chairs around the Titanic right now."

Bokhari, who hosts the podcast Fintech Moshpit, says it's time to get specific with the data and direction reopening needs to take to allow businesses to get going again as soon as possible. He weighed in with that take on his podcast Tuesday when he sat down with John Marino, founder of Olde Mecklenburg Brewery.

Bokhari says businesses should be specifically and scientifically guided to their safest practices.

"Let's show them: Here's what you need to do to maintain this level of social distancing," Bokhari said. "Here are the expectations of you and you can come back to business right away if you can achieve that."

According to Bokhari, while the intent of some protests to reopen is commendable, in his opinion, the methods of gathering in large groups to voice opinions might further polarize an already divided issue and make finding common ground more difficult. 

He also disagrees with the side of hunkering down for much longer.

"This shouldn't be a standoff between both sides because small business suffers between it," said Bokhari.

Watch Bokhari's full podcast here.

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