A few Albany wags called it “mandate-ish” when Governor Kathy Hochul’s indoor mask order took effect a week ago and roughly 20 percent of the state’s counties said immediately they’d not be enforcing
We remain somewhat at a loss as to how a county could cherry-pick the state laws (or, as may be the case, executive orders that carry the full force of law) they choose to enforce. That’s a topic for another day.
“They’re saying that just to get in the paper,” Governor Hochul quipped about the recalcitrants. “She’s doing it just to get in the paper,” the recalcitrants, generally, replied.
Otsego County Health Department officials —remember, friends, they’re just the messenger here — last week expressed valid concern over their safety while at work. Not because of Covid-19, but because of threats from people irritated by the county’s enforcement of an order that came down from Albany.
We’d call it juvenile, but it’s much more consequential.
When Governor Cuomo pontificated during his television monologues about his various mask requirements, he’d say something jovial along the lines of “New Yorkers will enforce it.” That it would be quintessentially “New York Tough” to get up in someone’s grill on the street to make it perfectly clear that hey, pally, you oughtta be wearing a mask.
Or, as it happens, ramrod into a public office building to express a dissenting opinion in a threatening “New York Tough” sort of way.
Thanks for that, Disgraced Ex-Governor.
Who’s left, then, to carry out the enforcement or face a big fine? You got it: business owners.
Big stores and office buildings will, for the most part, scotch-tape anodyne signs on entrance doors; some may have security on hand to ask customers to at least think about putting on a mask. Mandate enforcement exposes small businesses to the direct and potentially dangerous brunt of a public weary from Covid-19 rules and looking for any opportunity to hop on the nearest soapbox to set the world to right.
Our Main Street stores hoping for last-minute Christmas shoppers already are up against daunting competition, and now they have to once again wear the unwanted badge of the mask police. We believe, despite the hassle, they generally prefer the temporary requirement to the randomized essential vs. non-essential businesses delineation that lurks in the wings should Omicron and Delta continue their deadly spread.
When people shop and dine in our local businesses, we hope they’ll just deal with it and put on their masks. A grand total of zero business owners and employees want to be That Person to tell valued customers that state law requires a face covering. They’re far more eager to point you to the book you’re looking for, the candy they could recommend, or the earrings that just came in that would go perfectly with the sweater you’re considering. They want to show you to your table with the hope that you’ll enjoy your evening out.
They neither need nor want nor have the time to hear a treatise on personal freedom and how they’re infringing it and just following like sheep when this is all a government hoax or whatever. They just want to do their job.
We don’t like the mandate; a mask is one more thing to forget when we’re running out the door for that last-minute errand. But early data show Omicron likely has a way of sneaking around the back corner of our vaccinations and booster. A little piece of cloth that protects us and the vulnerable around us isn’t a bad alternative to feeling horrid or being intubated.
The doctors to whom we entrust every vestige of our health tell us that masks work. And if for no other reason, we’ll wear them to save our county’s beleaguered health department and local businesses from unnecessary unpleasantries.