When the world changes, we need to change with it.
That’s now true of mandates and recommendations to wear face masks in public to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Those of us who lived in Colorado in 1987 may remember the letters to newspapers decrying the then-new mandatory seat belt law. The main argument was that the law was an affront to personal freedom.
We’re seeing much the same indignation over the not-particularly onerous rules about wearing face coverings in public.
At this point, just about anyone not wearing some sort of mask, either in a store or an outdoor setting where it’s impossible to maintain social distancing — 6 feet, or roughly two Labrador retrievers — is making a statement. That statement is misguided, as is the idea that the virus itself is some sort of hoax.
This piece isn’t going to argue about the efficacy of masks in preventing the spread of the COVID-19, or the reality of the disease, so save your emails.
Instead, here’s a simple fact: If we’re going to get our economy back on track, many more of us need to mask up.
Governments and businesses, including Costco and local transit systems, require patrons to wear masks. Communities including Glenwood Springs, Basalt and Aspen have made mask-wearing mandatory in public places.
In an odd contortion of logic, many of those who decry mask mandates are also calling for the immediate reopening of businesses in the valley, state and nation.
Reopening is something most folks fervently wish for. In the case of our valley, though, that means inviting guests to stay and play in our part of the world. Those guests are going to demand assurances that businesses are safe.
In the days after the first COVID-19 cases were reported in the valley, people at this newspaper received any number of emails from patrons of businesses that had reported virus-sickened employees. Who was infected? When did it happen? Was that person working the night I had dinner?
Do you think those people will come back without assurances that we as a valley are doing everything possible to ensure their safety?
In this case, a big part of “everything” is employees, fellow guests and people in grocery and other stores wearing face coverings.
Without guests, we can’t get back to work and our economy will continue to wither.
Wearing a mask is no fun. Ask those who do it for hours at a time on a work shift. Still, wearing a mask isn’t particularly high on the list of horrible things. Would you rather wear a mask for eight hours or sit through a marathon session of Congress?
It took about 30 years for Colorado to almost hit 90% seat belt use. We have to do much better than that when it comes to mask use.
The Vail Daily Editorial Board is Editor Nate Peterson, Publisher Mark Wurzer, Assistant Editor Ross Leonhart, Eagle Valley Enterprise Editor Pam Boyd, Business Editor Scott Miller and Advertising Director Holli Snyder.