THE clamor to reopen the entire economy as well as to lift all quarantine restrictions in the city is strong. But are we ready for the new normal?
Six months into quarantine and we are nowhere near a 100 percent compliance on the basic safety protocols that should now be second nature to us.
Though mandated to wear masks and shields to enter certain facilities like malls, sadly, many people only comply at the entrance. Once out of sight from security personnel, they slide their masks off their noses, worse, down their necks and use their shields as headbands. Keeping safe distances remains an alien concept to many.
I’ve personally witnessed a variety of violations on safety protocols each time I go out.
But it is the responsibility of business owners to police the people (employees and customers alike) within their premises not mine. I should not have to initiate any kind of contact with persons who flout safety protocols thereby increasing my risk of infection. I should not have to enter into an altercation with others because my safety has been compromised, causing me only greater anxiety.
So, yes, I’ve walked away to preserve both my safety and sanity.
There is a need for safety control officers to patrol malls and supermarket aisles to call out safety violations. To protect the public, repeat offenders should be banned from these establishments. I call on malls, business and property owners to exercise zero tolerance.
It only takes one careless act or one thoughtless fool for community transmission to take root once more.
Malls should put up huge, conspicuous signs everywhere reminding the public to keep masks and shields on and maintain safe distances at all times. A public address system should regularly blare out these reminders. Drones should fly above people’s heads, calling them out for their bad behavior. Robo cops might be useful too. It’s hard to argue with a robot.
And people will be angry. Yes, those who are not ready to move on to the new normal. Because if they were ready then they would not have to be reminded to do what is right.
Our senior citizens and children should be released from house arrest. Soon. But until the day we can call out unsafe public behavior and not offend anyone’s sensibilities, we cannot allow the most vulnerable members of our community to step out except for essential reasons.
Until the day we no longer need to call people out for violating safety protocols, until the day we stop disrespecting public space and endangering public health, until the day we exercise greater responsibility for the common good, we cannot call our communities safe.
Are we ready for the new normal? No. We have done a lot. But we need to do — so much more. And until safety becomes muscle memory in the community, we are not ready.
October 10, 2020
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