Saturday, May 08, 2021

When Rules Are Suggestions

"Some states," the report below from CBS News on May 3 indicates, "are now lifting restrictions as infection rates decline."  More than 40% of adults now are fully vaccinated and infections are declining in twenty-three states.

With an increasing number of people vaccinated and the arrival of warm weather, infection rates( in the absence of new strains of the coronavirus spreading) will continue to decline.

But that will not be because of clear and decisive decisions by state executives. Nonethless, reports that by order of New Jersey governor Phil Murphy

New Jersey will join New York and Connecticut in dropping many of its largest remaining coronavirus restrictions May 19, including removing fixed, percentage-based indoor capacity limits at restaurants, gyms, retail businesses, and churches — though mask and social distancing regulations will remain — while also ending all outdoor gathering caps....

The capacity change will affect restaurants, gyms, hair and nail salons, barber shops, retail shops, movie theaters, museums, places of worship, and amusement parks, all of which are currently limited to 50% capacity in New Jersey.

Under the change, there would be no limit based on a percentage of capacity, but businesses and venues will still be required to keep patrons or parties of patrons 6 feet apart, based on federal Centers for Disease Control guidelines. Restaurants can also build physical partitions to allow for closer seating.

Meanwhile, seating at indoor bars in New Jersey will be allowed to resume starting Friday, with the same restrictions on social distancing. Buffets will also be allowed to return that day.

But this is not quite a full reopening for New Jersey, nor does it mean restaurants and stores will look like they did pre-pandemic. People must still wear a mask for all indoor activities unless they are eating or drinking.

"People must still wear a mask for all indoor activities unless they are eating or drinking" represents not only the terrible reporting during this pandemic but also the dishonesty which has characterized the words and actions of public officials.

Not going to happen. People don't go to restaurants and bars to sit down, eat and drink, and leave. They go to relax, to talk to the other individuals at their table or at the bar, and often to socialize.

They will not do this while wearing masks.  They know it, the business owners and their staffs know it, and the governors of New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut know it.

Business owners can encourage patrons to abide by social distance regulations but their ability to enforce them is limited. Demanding that individual customers wear their masks- properly- would be even more risky.

At the same time that customers of bars and restaurants are shirking regulations- with the full knowledge of government officials- people throughout the region will be in supermarkets/grocery stores, and drugstores wearing masks. No one will resist the peer pressure to do so, though the risk of transmission in a solitary activity such as shopping is greater than in the social settings involving eating and drinking.

In practice, people will not be required, nor expected, to wear a mask for all indoor activities. However, it's not hard to determine why government officials would establish a regulation they know will be ignored. notes

Republicans have pushed Murphy, a Democrat seeking re-election in November, to move more quickly or to at least release target dates. And on Friday, a fellow Democrat, state Sen. Dawn Addiego, D-Burlington, called on the governor to lift all capacity limits in the state by July 1.

In announcing what New York governor Andrew Cuomo terms "a major reopening of economic and social activity,” Democratic governors are able (they think) to shut up GOP politicians who have slammed Democratic state executives for keeping their "economy closed." Restaurant and bar patrons will enjoy their night. Yet chores, essential activities, wil be conducted with face coverings, thus satisfying that portion of the leftshaming people and politicians resisting masks.

It's a win-win in the short term for politicians, especially with the media ignoring the obvious dissonance. But somewhere, sometime down the road, hypocrisy will exact its price.

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