Editorial: Reopening may not be for everyone, right away 



Friday’s news that retail stores and restaurants could open to the public in certain counties (including Hancock) sooner than initially thought is welcome for some, but potentially terrifying for others.  

As the state’s plan to reopen unfolds, it is important to recognize that people will continue to have mixed reactions, and that is okay. Some people may have underlying conditions or may be a caretaker to someone at risk. For those people, becoming sick could have a devastating impact on themselves and those they care about. Even as people are asked to do their part to flatten the curve, we must respect the fact that severe anxiety may keep a person from wearing a mask in public just as much as we must respect that once the stay at home order is lifted some people may not want to come to a small dinner party or a family function.  

Last week, hairdressers and barbers began to welcome clients back to their chairs under the cover of a significant amount of personal protective equipment. Pet groomers, golf courses, drive-in theaters, marinas and car dealerships were also given the green light to welcome in customers. By June 1, there will be a slate of other businesses that may resume operations. But will people patronize these businesses just yet? Some people will vie to be first in line while others will take a wait-and-see approach to determine if the decision to open public spaces will result in more sickness or death. It is a valid concern, and again, a personal one that people are allowed to have.  

For many business owners and would-be customers, the push to reopen is arguably more about economics than it is about health. As a rural county for which tourism is a primary economic driver, a potentially lost summer season would be disastrous. Small and vulnerable businesses, especially those without an established customer base or access to commercial lending, may have little choice but to open their doors in order to avoid permanent closure.  

With fewer cases and deaths than counties to our south, it seems reasonable to believe that Hancock County might safely be able to open ahead of others. However, even as we talk about reopening, we are still in the midst of a significant public health crisis. With more than 1,300 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 62 deaths recorded so far, Maine is not invulnerable. It is up to everyone to play a part to prevent and reduce the spread of the virus.  

From wearing face coverings in public to employing safe social distancing practices, every Mainer has an obligation to protect each other and to keep the numbers low so that the reopening that many would like to see can continue throughout the summer and beyond 

 

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