Posted Friday, June 26, 2020
This Is ME, Counting On YOU
When I go into a store, restaurant or public building, I wear a mask. It’s my choice, and I choose to do it. Why? Because mounting evidence suggests that this is one of the most effective tools we have in limiting the spread of COVID-19.
Sadly, wearing a mask has become a hot button issue in our society – an act of defiance for some who choose not to wear one. Make no mistake – it is your right to make that choice in Maine within the confines of the Governor’s Executive Order, and some choose not to, while others have legitimate medical reasons for being unable to wear a mask.
However, with rights come responsibilities, and I, for one, feel a responsibility to follow the simple yet important guidance from medical professionals.
Looking at this another way – the Chamber and countless local businesses have been advocating for trusting businesses to follow guidance to protect themselves, their employees and their customers so they can open safely and responsibly. Why would we put so much time and energy into trusting businesses to open safely, only to go into those businesses and risk shutting it all down by having a COVID-19 infection happen there? It is counterintuitive. In short – wearing a mask IS supporting businesses. It is the ultimate show of respect and understanding for the struggles we are all facing.
Regarding those with legitimate medical reasons why you can’t wear a mask – yes, we absolutely need to be accommodating to people in this situation, and businesses should do whatever they can to find alternatives to accommodate these people. Many businesses have done a fantastic job of creating opportunities for curbside service, outside service, call-ahead shopping, creating online opportunities for shopping, and more.
I have heard frequently from businesses who work hard to enforce mask wearing in their locations that they argue with some customers about the customer’s right to enter their place of business without a mask. Actually, it is the owner of the business that has the right to enforce the wearing of a mask in their place of business.
I can’t make you wear a mask anywhere. However, I do encourage you to do so. I view it as a show of respect to businesses literally on the edge. I wouldn’t want to do anything that might cause them more hardship. If I turn out to be wrong and masks are proven to not make a difference, well then I’ve just looked kind of silly for a while – that’s all. I’ve looked silly before, and I likely will again. If masks really do make a difference and we don’t wear them, the consequences are potentially much more dire. Seems like a pretty simple choice to me.
Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Stay home if you don’t feel well. These are not hard things to do, and I view them as important demonstrations of support for our local businesses. Our Chamber has joined with other Chambers statewide for a campaign to promote these simple acts of support for businesses. The campaign is titled ‘This Is ME, Counting On YOU’.
And one last thing - be kind to one another. Life is stressful enough right now.
I wish you all good health. The Chamber is here for you – let me know how we can help you.
President & CEO