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It’s time to reconsider restrictions

Has the time come to reopen our businesses and remove restrictions on their operations?

At this stage of the pandemic, we believe owners and operators of private enterprise have become educated enough and have sacrificed enough to make well-informed decisions about whether to fully reopen, how to reopen and, of course, how to protect their patrons.

Masks. Hand-washing. Disinfecting.

It’s happening, and those who go out to shop and dine are being smarter, too.

When a problem arises, the businesses temporarily close.

Again, it’s happening.

Yes, health and well-being are at stake.

So are livelihoods.

The owners of businesses are weathering this storm, but make no mistake, damage from the storm is becoming irreversible.

They also are experiencing the damages brought on by the past 11 months of government-mandated closures and restrictions.

Some of the restrictions certainly made sense some 10 months ago.

Others did not.

Why, for example, can there be 500 people in Walmart or 200 people in a grocery store, but only a handful in a local restaurant?

What we believe most Americans want is a more fair and measured approach to fighting COVID-19 without — we emphasize “without” the hype and panic the mainstream media pours down our throats every day.

As vaccines become more widely distributed it is reasonable to believe the virus spread will ease, the risks to contract will decrease.

Indeed, what everybody deserves is a fighting chance to survive in these next months as the coronavirus vaccines become more widely available.

And we, as a community, must remember to patronize our local small businesses in whatever way we can, including masks when we visit them.

These businesses, our lifeblood, are sorely in need of a transfusion, and we should all do what we can to support them.

We also need to remedy the problem of an elected official single-handedly taking control by long-term emergency declaration.

Gov. Tom Wolf’s emergency declaration for the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown has been in place for nearly 11 months.

Meanwhile, the state’s Independent Fiscal Office projects it will take six years for employment to recover from the recession caused by COVID-19 and Wolf’s lockdown.

To that end, we applaud efforts in the state House to place limits on a governor’s emergency declaration powers via amendment to the state Constitution.

This proposed amendment would give Pennsylvania voters the opportunity to decide via referendum whether to change the way future emergencies are handled. The ballot question could appear as early as the May 18 primary election.

Unfortunately, we cannot wait for this amendment to be passed to get people back to work.

It is past time for government to get out of the way.

Let’s not forget that the restrictions on businesses originally were intended to “slow the spread” and prevent an overwhelming demand on healthcare workers and facilities at a time when we were still living our “old” normal.

In the past year, we’ve seen people, by and large, agree to wear masks, employ social distancing, avoid large gatherings and increase their cleanliness and sanitization routines.

Now it’s time to let people make decisions for themselves and not because of the threat of sending the police when a business has the nerve to serve its customers.

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