Our View: A light at the end
It’s like we’ve been on a train for months traveling through a mountain tunnel.
We entered the tunnel in mid-March, when state governments across the country took action because of the coronavirus. We’ve been under a thick blanket of darkness since then, charting a path with an unknown distance and trying to stay on the rails.
And now, with a vaccine approved and being administered, we can see there is light at the end.
The existence of a vaccine for COVID-19 is cause to celebrate, but it doesn’t mean we’re now under a healthy sun. There’s still plenty of darkness to get through before our lives again resemble something normal.
No one is quite sure how to navigate the next few months, though plenty of people are happy to tell you their opinion on how it should be done. It’s the same with governments, which, after all, are composed of people with their own plethora of opinions.
Take a look at Grass Valley and Nevada City, for example. The Nevada City Council recently imposed a fine structure for those who fail to wear their masks in public. A few miles to the south, Grass Valley opted to change outdoor seating, previously connected to various businesses, into public areas anyone can use.
Two different directions the cities’ respective leaders hope get us closer to the light.
Nevada City obviously is tired of people walking around unmasked and decided to impose fines on those who refuse.
Naturally, this was followed by an event, “Nevada City Revival,” in which dozens of unmasked people, at least one with a warming fire, congregated by City Hall in violation of the newly installed fines. If you’re not going to enforce your rules, why bother making them? To make it on the Sacramento TV stations again?
While Nevada City’s move was focused on the virus, Grass Valley looked to economic health. People need to eat and businesses need to sell product. Instead of forcing them to scuttle back to their homes, why not wave a bureaucratic wand and turn a business encroachment into a public space? This way we can remain safe, keep our distance and not torpedo our economy.
If Gov. Gavin Newsom has an issue with it, well, what’s he really going to do?
And there’s the elephant in the room when it comes to mask fines, social distancing and the difference between public spaces and those controlled by restaurants — there is no real enforcement.
In April, many of us complied, because the pandemic was new and people generally trusted their government. Now we’re almost a year into this thing, and people aren’t so understanding anymore.
Newsom can make all the orders he wants, but it’s on us to make our choices whether to obey.
To be fair, most of us are complying. Sure, there are a few stubborn holdouts who refuse to wear a mask — and sometimes like making a scene about it — but a large majority is considerate. Mask wearing, long part of the culture in other countries, has finally come to our neck of the woods. We’ve come a long way since April.
But we still have a ways to go.
After all these months, let’s recognize our responsibility and act on it. Yes, it appears unlikely Nevada City police are going to fine you, but it shouldn’t be fear of a ticket that makes us mask up. Studies show that masks work.
We all want our loved ones protected. We should want everyone protected as well.
We can accomplish all of these goals by continuing to wear masks and encouraging others to do so. We can still support local stores while being safe. We can hold ourselves to a high standard without the threat of the government fining us.
We can do these things for just a while longer, because finally, after all these months, we can see light at the end of the tunnel.
The weekly Our View editorial represents the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com.
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