As several states begin to reopen businesses, billionaire Mark Cuban says it may be too soon to do so amid the widespread coronavirus pandemic — and he has a simple litmus test for when people will feel comfortable returning to stores and offices that have been closed for weeks.
"You just want to keep people safe," Cuban said in an interview published Wednesday with NBC's Dallas-Fort Worth news affiliate. (In particular, Cuban was speaking to Texas's governor detailing plans to reopen the state's businesses later this week. But Cuban doesn't believe the state has effective protocols in place.)
"You can open [businesses] up, but they are going to lose more money," Cuban said.
That's because Cuban does not believe most residents, like himself, are ready to return to their normal shopping habits in public.
"The test I use ... is: 'Would I let my kids out?'" he said.
"Am I going to let [my kids] Jake, Alyssa and Alexis go out into any one of these environments or stores without knowing that they are adhering to these issues," he said, referring to guidelines that still must be ironed out, like how long a mask or face-covering can be worn before it needs to be switched out for a fresh one.
"The answer is no," he added.
Cuban isn't totally against gradually reopening certain aspects of public life, however.
"Opening up parks, I'm fine with that," he told NBC, adding that he also doesn't see a problem with opening retail stores, "but only for pickup."
"People are already ordering online and we're already used to doing curbside pickup for food," Cuban said. "I don't think that's a bad thing [as long as] they're putting enough constraints on things.
"But opening up gyms, opening up movie theaters — where people congregate — that's different. We're not ready for that."
There are still too many questions left to be answered about how businesses can reopen safely and what protocols they'll need to take to ensure public safety amid a widespread pandemic, Cuban believes.
"In order to go back to work in your office building, how do you know that office building is healthy? These are the questions that we need to answer, in terms of opening up," he told NBC.
In a planned Monday afternoon press conference, Texas Governor Greg Abbott is expected to outline the state's plans to gradually reopen a range of businesses — including restaurants, hair salons and retail outlets — starting after the state's stay-at-home order expires on Thursday.
"This is gonna be happening in the first couple of days in May where you're gonna be able to go back and go dining under safe standards, you're gonna be able to get a haircut … but we're gonna make sure there'll be safe standards in place so that you will be able to do that without spreading the coronavirus," Gov. Abbott said in a radio interview.
For Cuban, though, the "economic impact" is still a secondary concern that comes after finding a coronavirus cure, which he says will allow people to "feel safe to go out and [so] we're not concerned that we're going to make our kids sick or our parents sick."
The billionaire understands why some people would want businesses to reopen in the hopes of returning the U.S. economy to the strong levels that were enjoyed before the coronavirus pandemic shut down much of the country. But he feels that's easier said than done, and we need to be realistic about this situation.
"Yeah, the economy was great, but we're not there anymore," Cuban said. "We've got to be realistic that things have changed. But, they can change for the better" with innovations from entrepreneurs.
In fact, if anything, Cuban has made it clear that he's confident the U.S. business environment will only improve in the wake of this pandemic.
Cuban insists "there's no country I'd rather be in" than the United States right now. "The United States of America is the most innovative, entrepreneurial, resilient country in the world. And we will come up with solutions," he told NBC.
Earlier in April, Cuban said in an interview that he believes the pandemic will result in a more "compassionate" form of capitalism in the U.S.
And in another interview with Yahoo Finance, Cuban contended that America will thrive in the aftermath of coronavirus because "we're a country of entrepreneurs" and that the current financial downturn will create opportunities for savvy businesspeople to launch several "world-changing companies."
Disclosure: NBC and CNBC are both owned by NBCUniversal.
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