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Georgia Is Open for Business — if by 'Open' You Mean Increased Prices and Reduced Service

(Pixabay)

As I wrote earlier, my governor took endless media criticism for taking steps to reopen Georgia’s economy. Turns out “reopening” means increased prices and reduced service.

I am a big fan of supporting local businesses. My hair salon is owned by a local woman and her husband. The restaurant where we watch my Georgia Bulldogs play football, celebrate special occasions, and meet with friends is a small local chain. My car mechanic is my neighbor and I hire local businesses to do everything from pest control to home repairs.

I was excited at the prospect of some of these businesses reopening even on a limited basis. Then I realized how limited that basis really was. It is not really helping these small business owners. How ‘dangerous’ is Georgia’s reopening? Let me give you a few examples.

I have been getting takeout from my local restaurant as a means of tipping the single member of the waitstaff that is working. We have been trying to be more than generous, often tipping in excess of our bill. When I went to grab some blackened chicken nachos on Friday, I asked about reopening on Monday. The manager’s reaction surprised me.

He was actually quite negative. The restaurant will not even be opening at 25% capacity because having more than one waitstaff on shift will cause them to lose money. Unlike most restaurants, this one actually pays more than minimum wage plus tips. In addition, the manager will have to be policing whether or not people seated together live in the same household. All staff will have to wear masks. This was something they weren’t required to do when providing takeout.

The restaurant has a bar, which can seat people during reopening. However, the chairs must be six feet apart. Even if my husband and I were at the bar together, that distance would have to be maintained. This is, of course, ridiculous. Because of these restrictions, six seats at the bar, two booths and three four-seat tables will be operating. This is about 10% of their capacity and is not sustainable for very long even with the Paycheck Protection Act.

I contacted my stylist to see if her salon was reopening. The answer was yes, so I made an appointment. The person I see is a single mom with two children. I am sure the shutdown has had a significant impact on her and want to help ease the economic pain she must be feeling. After confirming my appointment, I received four paragraphs of instructions on how to enter the salon.

Not only must I wear a mask and gloves, I also have to sit in the parking lot to wait for my appointment. Once inside, if I am getting my hair cut it will be dry cut. Most women can tell you this is rarely a good idea. They are only allowed to wash hair if you are receiving a color treatment. Then you will leave with your hair wet because they are not allowed to blow dry.

Because of the limitations on their business and PPE requirements, there will be a 20% surcharge on all services. This is usually what I tip. And I am really not sure I want to go through the hassle.

As a matter of public health, I think the mask and gloves requirements for both restaurant workers and staff and clients in a hair salon are ridiculous. In order for these to prevent disease transmission, they must be put on and removed in very specific ways. Healthcare workers know this. Most of the public do not. So it is really just a false sense of security.

As a matter of public policy, I find it offensive at this point. I do not expect Governor Kemp, President Trump, or the government in general to keep me safe. Because I am an adult, I am also not going to hold any of these people accountable for additional cases of COVID-19 or even additional deaths. There is one group that can be blamed for all of this and it is the Chinese Communist Party.

Flattening the curve never meant the risk of contracting COVID-19 would go away. It just meant we were trying not to overwhelm the health system. We didn’t. Great job everyone. Time to move on if the public health system is prepared to do surveillance and contact tracing. It is my understanding from the daily press briefings that this is generally the case outside of significant hot spots.

It is up to me to understand my relative risk related to COVID-19. And if I were to follow CDC guidelines, I would be on the first day of a 14-day quarantine forever. I have two essential employees in my house who have never stopped interacting with the public and I have never stopped interacting with them. Maybe that gives me more perspective than people who have been holed up with their family for the last six weeks.

Or maybe it is the fact I am a Cold War kid. The end of the world was supposed to come in the form of everything from a nuclear holocaust to killer bees. I am past all patience with the media-induced COVID-19 panic and ready to start living rather than existing. And the idea that any politician should be held responsible for a respiratory virus that is looking more and more similar to the flu, is simply ridiculous.

So, while I applaud my governor for being a first mover in the nation, I really hope he starts moving faster. We are not a nation of 340 million children. And it is time we stopped acting like it.

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