What's shopping in a pandemic like? Drive to your local mall

Amid concerns of the spread of COVID-19, a man and little boy walk hand-in-hand while wearing masks in shadows cast by sunlight at the Galleria Dallas mall in Dallas, Monday, May 4, 2020.

Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen went on a bit of a Facebook rant earlier this week after seeing what he and many others would deem as unacceptable behavior at local big box stores. The 446-word post — about the length of one of our editorials — compared the guidelines of those national chains against the small business owners in our community.

“While these behemoth retailers continue to reap profits with little to no regard for their employees’ and customers’ safety — and ensuring the continued spread of COVID-19 — our local small businesses are the ones who suffer,” Bonnen wrote, “our small businesses who are barely staying afloat and now are trying to demonstrate to their customers that they are following every measure and guideline to keep them safe, desperately working to give them the comfort they need to walk in their doors.”

At our small businesses, he pointed out, employees are wearing masks and gloves and taking extra precautions to avoid contact that could pass the virus from person to person. Those safeguards are not seen at three major retailers, including two home improvement chains often cited by local residents as being routinely full of customers as though we’re not experiencing a pandemic.

It’s a valid observation, one we have made in editorials and columns routinely since the stay-at-home orders were issued back in March. It appears many locals were using the quarantine as a chance to knock items off their honey-do lists, and that’s not possible without lumber, nails and other home improvement supplies.

But another valid observation is while those maskless, gloveless customers and workers might not have been adhering to the guidance offered by government leaders, they weren’t violating any laws. They were conducting what they considered essential transactions in what the state listed as an essential business.

And if there is anything we know about Texans, they take suggestions as just that and aren’t going to do anything they don’t want to do. That includes if they disagree with something that is more than a suggestion but an outright legal government order.

If people wearing masks and gloves in public is a requirement for stopping the spread of disease, people in leadership should tell them they need to do, not just say it’s a good idea. If it’s a bad idea for hundreds of people to pack into home improvement stores to load up on weed killer and lumber, then those stores should be closed.

If we think grown-ups are responsible enough to decide on their own whether face coverings will protect them and their neighbors from a potentially deadly disease, and as such don’t require them, then it’s not exactly fair to criticize those who don’t. That applies to a local boutique or 200,000-square-foot supercenter.

It’s also unfair when most major retailers are doing their part by installing plastic screens at checkout stations, providing masks, gloves and hand sanitizers for employees, and lining their floors with 6-foot markers to maintain social distancing.

Among every American’s First Amendment rights are the freedom to complain about everything, and as tens of thousands of their fellow citizens have died, there has been no shortage of those airing their grievances about everything related to the pandemic. Bonnen’s post is in line with what many of them have said.

We either believe businesses should be allowed to operate in the manner they think is best for their workers and customers or we should have mandates that tell them what they should do. We either believe Americans have the right to go about their lives as they see fit or we set requirements for how they conduct themselves for the greater good.

Calling out people and businesses for operating within the rules set by state leadership is holding the wrong party responsible.

Michael Morris i s managing editor of The Facts. Contact him at 979-237-0144 or michael.morris@thefacts.com, or follow him on Twitter @Factsmichael1.

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(13) entries

Bulldog

Masks have already been proven to be ineffective. All it does is give people a sense of false security.

natives5

So why do the CDC, Dr. Fauci, and Dr. Birx all encourage the wearing of masks if they are ineffective? It seems to me that if they are ineffective like you say the doctors, nurses, and front line workers would not be complaining about the shortage of masks as they would not need them.

Bulldog

https://time.com/5794729/coronavirus-face-masks/

natives5

Below is the note that appears on the link you provided. “Note: The CDC has updated its guidance to the public around wearing masks during the coronavirus pandemic. On April 3, it advised Americans to wear non-medical cloth face coverings, including homemade coverings fashioned from household items, in public settings like grocery stores and pharmacies.”

Bulldog

True, but the article clearly stated they are ineffective

AMP

If you are afraid of others not wearing masks & gloves, just wear them yourself or don't go in the store!

Father of Six

Mr. Morris do you remember your September 26th opinion piece? Can you walk and chew gum? Where is your opinion on Joe? Coronavirus! Coronavirus! Coronavirus! Have your noticed most of don't care to play into the Coronavirus scare? Go to Buc-ee's tomorrow and start writing about what people care about, living and feeding our families.You are a Texan, live like it.

Father of Six

Can you imagine how silly you would have looked last year with a "Breaking News" 9 more people reported to have the flu in Brazoria County? Just a little perspective.

natives5

He would have looked silly being that there’s a vaccine for the flu unlike the coronavirus; just a little perspective.

Bulldog

LOL Flu vaccines is silly when people are being inoculated before they know what strain is going to around. It's a lucky guess at best.

PJBM626

I Love when Morris lectures other about fairness. Morris can’t even report the news fairly. What about Biden. What about Pelosi holding back money in critical “time of essence” for special interests give aways. Zero coverage. But we remember Morris blaming Repubs for shutdown and the Kavanagh articles. Micheal do what you preach

mary55

it's the typical narrative with Morris, very partisan and it always shows. I will say it again, we purchase the paper to hear THE FACTS, not a "Morris" opinion.

rlingalls

Wearing masks and following other medical advisories does in fact reduce transmission of the virus. As well, for those of you who choose NOT to wear a mask, safe distance, etc, YOU are keeping 70% of consumers out of the stores and businesses because they do now wish to be exposed to potential virus carriers. If you truly wanted to help our economy return, you would be wearing masks and wanting enforcement of safety precautions so ALL consumers would feel safe to return to stores. Unmasked, herding behavior is what will keep consumers away. If the US government really wanted to return citizens to a feeling of safety and protection, there would be laws in place requiring these easy to follow requirements.

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