Mask Up (or not?)

A week ago, Governor Greg Abbott lifted the statewide mask mandate and allowed businesses to resume full operations at maximum capacity once again. When the announcement was released a week prior to the official easing of restrictions, many Texas residents were torn as to how to react. Some felt that this was a needed and welcomed change while many others acknowledged that it was too soon and that there is more progress to be made before significant changes can be introduced.

Businesses have not been operating at full capacity for almost a year now and many shop owners and entrepreneurs have had to shut their doors and find alternate routes to make ends meet. Many business owners saw the situation for what it was and did their best to adapt in these trying times. Grocery stores began offering more curbside options to limit contact as well as local restaurants and many business models that cater to delivering goods and services grew as a result of the demand. So while many businesses were negatively impacted by the reality of COVID-19, other businesses were able to pivot and, to a degree, positively spin the changing conditions in their favor.

Regardless of how much we adapt, everyone remembers how things were before the pandemic and miss certain aspects of that time. But feeling nostalgic about past events isn’t enough cause to put our citizens at risk by removing mandates that are put in place to protect us. Even if it appealed to a large group of people, as legislators and government officials it is their job to make educated and informed decisions for the public. Governor Abbott’s decision lacked the due diligence and reasoning to make the decision to lift the mandate which is paralleled by other states following suit.

Every state has handled the COVID situation differently which is why transmission rates vary significantly by geographic location. Florida for example recommends but does not require masks (which changes if larger counties require it) and residents cannot be fined or penalized for noncompliance. These irregularities in regulations create confusion in the populace and are why there are people on both sides of the issue. Politicization has prevented the topic of wearing masks from being what it should only be – a health issue.

At the end of the day, mask mandates may be lifted but businesses can still require masks (as they operate on private property) and many continue to do so to protect their employees and customers alike. Governal institutions won’t always make the perfect decisions for the population, but it is our duty to come together and correct the issues we see present to create a better future not just for us, but for everyone who has been riding in the same boat as us since the pandemic began.

-Azaan Moledina

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