I have a number of places I love to shop or eat in our tri-town area and I want to help them get through the fall and winter when, if history has taught us anything, it is likely that the COVID delta variant will rampage through those months.

We have such a divide between those of us who got the vaccination and mask as needed, and those who have defined liberty as not getting vaccinated and not wearing a mask. But the sorry truth in all of this is the rapid rise of cases across the nation and here in Moore County of the highly contagious delta variant.

While it is also true that some cases are clearly milder than others — as with many viruses — the danger to us all continues. Some folks are betting on not getting it or getting a mild case. They are free to place such a bet, but what I fear is they are not taking into account being a carrier and giving it to me with asthma, my friend with lung cancer or my pal with COPD. I know they do not want to infect anyone, but if you have it within you, you will infect someone.

What will be the cost to our local businesses? It could be closures again as our rate of infection rises. This is the very thing we wish to avoid, and it is easily done. I would appreciate businesses who require masking and showing proof of vaccination to achieve entry. If a business does not agree that keeping the spread down is beneficial to their staying open, they can post that on their door and folks like me can simply take a pass on shopping or eating there.

But for those who do insist on social distancing, masking until food is served and vaccinations, Darling Husband and I will eat out more just to support you. If you have things I need to buy like books or shoes, no more Amazon for me if you insist on vaccination/masks. I am all yours.

It is clear, as we learned last year, that cases rise and businesses close, but we know how to manage this now. For those who choose not to believe in the science of viral activity and the ways to stop the spread, their options may become restricted, but not as restricted as last year’s shutdown. If there are breweries or shops or restaurants who share their thinking and if they conform to whatever mandate may exist, they will have options too.

I am not looking for punishment for anti-vaxers or non-maskers, but they, like the rest of us, must live with the consequences of their choices.

I suspect more of us will shop locally and eat out more to support our local businesses if and only if we feel safe this winter doing so. Put a sign on your door saying how many people are safely seated or allowed into your shop at any given time — I will happily wait my turn — and tell me if your crew is wearing masks and vaccinated and I will prove that I am.

Every day we enter into similar agreements but more silently. We expect our electrical wires running down our streets to be grounded properly, we insist that our municipal drains work, that gas stations are equipped safely so we can buy gas and not something else coming out of the pump, and that it is stored and presented safely. This is the burden of government and businesses.

We expect safety and health inspections of our restaurants, which they display. Well, I think telling me that I may enter vaccinated and masked and interact with folks in the same condition makes for good business sense — and cents.

Liberty comes with obligations; we all know that. These have not been happy times, and they have been confusing because viruses are living, thriving things that mutate daily to survive. We need to be as nimble as that.

For those who don’t believe the science, I find it sad that so many end up at FirstHealth begging for science to save them, which I hope they can, but a vaccination would have done it earlier.

Let’s try to save our businesses this winter by being able to enter them safely.

Joyce Reehling lives in Pinehurst. She retired here from New York after a 33-year career in theater, TV and commercials.

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(4) comments

Monica Barrow

Really well said. Great ideas to incentive/empower merchants and restaurants.

Susan Thomas

Agree, Joyce. We want to be able to stimulate our local economy without risking our health and lives.

Laurie O'Loughlin

I couldn't say it better than Suzanne Martin already did. Thank you.

Suzanne Martin

I always look forward to your columns and your clear approach to social issues that is grounded in empathy and wisdom. We live in such divided times, it is always good to hear someone respond from the perspective of the greater good. More of this is needed. Thank you for your voice.

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