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Ross: No more going backwards and shutting down what’s open

Parking spots turned into outdoor dining. (SDOT/Flickr)

We keep hearing we’re not out of the woods yet; try to hang on for a few more weeks or months while more people get vaccinated – and I’m ready to do that. What I’m not ready for is moving backwards and shutting down things that were open.

I can’t think of anything more demoralizing for a business owner or for anybody getting a little taste of freedom. But the other thing I worry about if we roll back is whether, going forward, anyone is going to believe that government officials know what they’re doing, or trust these “data-driven” decisions.

When you go strictly by the number of infections without finding out how the disease is being spread, you risk punishing the people who obey the rules because of the people who don’t.

It’s a little like what gets people riled up about gun control: A responsible gun owner doesn’t want to be treated like an outlaw because of how the knuckleheads behave. And at this point, we all know how to minimize our COVID risk. Distance, masks, vaccines, no parties. We know this so well that for most people, exposing yourself to COVID becomes a choice. Some people are going to make dumb choices.

So my approach would be to focus on the people who don’t have a choice, people who have been unable to get a vaccination. If you have been unable to get a vaccination, you should not be forced to return to an unprotected workplace.

You deserve protection against being fired or punished if you refuse to return to a workplace that hasn’t done everything necessary to keep you safe. If that means some businesses have to close because not enough employees feel safe enough to come back, so be it.

But for the government to roll back the reopening for everybody is going make a lot of people angry, and if not angry, depressed, and – most damaging – it will leave them even more skeptical of anything their government asks them to do.

We have enough of that already.

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