Like many of you, I have worked very hard (and my employees) to keep up with the changing business landscape due to the coronavirus pandemic.

We thought we were turning the corner early this summer, but the emergence of the Delta variant has thrown us a curve. Corporate business was returning at our company, only to retreat in the face of this new viral threat.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) mask mandates remained in place for “transportation conveyances,” including passenger vessels. Passenger vessel operators including my company were forced to become “mask police” by government regulators. This resulted in conflicts between passengers and crew that in some cases became ugly. The Passenger Vessel Association pointed this out to the CDC and Coast Guard on numerous occasions telling them that they were putting companies and employees in the untenable and potentially dangerous position of having to enforce mask rules.

To increase Covid vaccinations in the U.S., President Biden has signed an executive order requiring private companies with 100 or more employees to direct their employees to be fully vaccinated or as an alternative submit to weekly testing. Failure to comply could result in a fine of up to $14,000. It’s estimated that this new mandate would cover approximately 80 million companies nationwide.

While I support the need to vaccinate, I am concerned that businesses are again thrown to the wolves in terms of enforcing this new requirement. I want to do my fair share, but my business continues to struggle, and this is one more Covid-related regulatory requirement that we must enforce.

As we struggle to survive, we are also having a very difficult time finding and retaining employees. We have increased pay and benefits, yet we are still having problems attracting employees. This problem is not unique to my company. It is a broad national problem for nearly every sector of our economy.

One way to help solve this problem is to incentivize going back to work, rather than not working. The federal government could create a program that will allow employees to receive a weekly bonus if they remain employed.

I realize that this program must have an end date, but it could provide the support necessary to jump-start employment and help us rebuild our businesses.

Alan Bernstein, owner of BB Riverboats in Cincinnati, is a licensed master and a former president of the Passenger Vessel Association. He can be reached at 859-292-2449 or [email protected].