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Time to Open the Door a Crack

It’s great to see businesses beginning to open back up! Here in Thailand, much like in the U.S., the government has started opening businesses and relaxing restrictions in phases. Things have been more strict here than in the U.S. We had a booze ban, and now people can purchase alcohol, but for home use only. It’s still illegal to gather a bunch of friends for a big hootenanny (a term which would furrow the brow of even the most fluent English-speaking Thai person).

If you want to drown your sorrows alone in front of reruns of the Twilight Zone, go for it. Travel between provinces is still restricted, and malls, department stores, bars, and large restaurants are still off limits. Small businesses and markets are opening. Compared to most places, the numbers related to the virus are miniscule in Thailand. We’ve had 2,966 confirmed cases, with 2,732 recoveries, and 54 fatalities. We only had two new cases yesterday (May 2). So, it’s quite a different scenario than in the U.S. Of course, it's much, much smaller here.

Watching news reports from around the world, especially from places like Sweden and South Korea, it seems total lockdown isn’t really the answer. I know this is a controversial opinion, which I’m sure aligns with some of yours, and juxtaposes others’.

I watched a news story today about a reporter who lambasted a local barber in Vacaville, California for breaking the lockdown rules and opening his shop. One reason this is disturbing, is the person doing the lambasting earns (or does she?) a six-figure salary, and has a net worth of $2 million. She has also continued to work throughout this ordeal. The barbershop owner, and his employees, depend on a steady flow of customers to support their families.

He said it best during the interview, when he said, “We’re all on the same ocean, but we’re in different boats.” I thought that was pretty profound. She’s up in her 100-foot yacht, leaning over the railing, with a glass of champagne, berating him in his 12-foot jon boat for the audacity of earning a few bucks to feed his family. I don’t know about you, but I find this behavior out of touch, and reprehensible.

I haven’t heard any statistics regarding people working in critical jobs, such as grocery store employees, of having a higher rate of infection than anyone else – health care workers being the exception. If the barber from Vacaville, allows in one customer at a time, requires customers and employees to wear masks, maintains proper distancing, and properly sanitizes his tools and chair after each customer, isn’t that enough to reduce the risk to minute levels?

I understand the need, in places like New York, where people are stacked up, to do whatever it takes to keep people away from each other. In other places, where it’s less populated, it makes more sense to go outside, as long as one uses precautions. With it being 19 times more likely to contract coronavirus indoors, why are beaches and parks closed? It just doesn’t make sense.

We have to have a little faith in our fellow Americans. In a country founded on freedom, we should be able to make our own decisions about whether to go back to work or not, at least up to a point. There’s nothing wrong with regulations imposed to keep us safe, but to take away a person’s ability to make a living goes against everything I was raised to believe. If I, as an American, want to go have a cup of coffee in my favorite diner, it seems I should be allowed to take that risk. As long as I follow whatever guidelines are specified, i.e. wearing a mask, sitting 6-feet from other customers, and slapping on some hand sanitizer, it should be my choice. If I don’t want to take the risk, then I can stay home – seems simple enough. Of course, this is coming from someone who REALLY doesn’t like being told what to do. It’s a miracle I made it through 26 years of military life.

Of course, there are exceptions to rule. With senior citizens at higher risk, nursing homes should have stringent rules applied. People inside aren’t in a position to make their own choices to isolate themselves. If visitors enter the home with the virus, residents are susceptible to infection via staff and close contact with other residents. Each situation must be examined individually. One size does not fit all.

I’m not saying everyone should immediately resume their lives as they did before we received this gift from China. I certainly don’t agree with people being forced into a position preventing them from earning a living. I think there is a happy middle … a place where safety and common sense meet. Each situation needs to be examined individually, with the ultimate goal of providing every American as much freedom as possible.

One of the main ideals that is a source of pride in (most) Americans, is we are free to make our own decisions without government interference. Some politicians seem to be using this pandemic as way to control the masses, and bring power and notoriety to themselves. This is occurring on national and local levels. I’m normally a go-with-the-flow kind of guy, but it’s heartening to see people protesting for their constitutional rights. Shutting down freedom of speech and censorship is a slippery, wet, muddy slope, and we’ve already got a crack full. It's time to hose ourselves off, and climb back up that hill.

It’s fine if your opinion is different from mine, and I try to look at things from different angles. This is just what make sense to me. I hope I don’t alienate anyone, and if you disagree, tell me why? I would love to hear an argument to make me go, “hmmmmm …”

Stay safe everyone, and if you are able to start getting out more, think of others around you. By now, you know what’s necessary to reduce risk, so take precautions and let’s get through this!