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It's up to each of us to stay safe during the pandemic

It's up to each of us to stay safe during the pandemic

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It seems like it has been forever since we could have lunch with friends at our favorite restaurant, shop in a local store, browse the shelves at a bookstore or workout in an area gym. Many businesses were shut down in an effort to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Closing those businesses and sequestering at home have gone a long way to keeping the spread of COVID-19 from being far worse than it has been.

But it is time for businesses to start opening, with a number of precautions both for employees and customers. For instance, restaurants have started to reopen, although with a diner limit of 25 percent of capacity. Staff members will wear masks and extra attention will be given to cleaning.

Businesses will open in stages and with limitations designed to keep us all safe. Some experts fear that opening too soon or without proper protection will create a spike in cases of the coronavirus. We must monitor the situation and be prepared to act quickly is the disease comes back once again,

We have every confidence in our business owners to use commonsense and to follow the rules established by the federal and state governments. The owners and employees are eager to get back to work, but they understand that doing so safely is paramount.

The big concern is whether customers will follow the rules. Early evidence is that many of us will not. When Florida and, briefly, California opened their beaches -- warning beach-goers to maintain at least six feet of distance from other folks -- thousands of people jammed the waterfront, maintaining no distance whatsoever. More than 350,000 people crammed into Galveston, creating gridlock and turning the island city into a giant parking lot. The people didn't care -- social distancing was the last thing on their mind. In Wisconsin last week, bars reopened -- Texas bars may be allowed to reopen later this week -- drinkers crowded in, cheek by jowl. Every conversation, every sneeze spread droplets on people nearby, and some of those droplets could have contained COVID-19. Shoppers at a Target broke and employee's arm when he told them they needed to be wearing a mask while shopping.

If people continue to disregard the rules and guidelines, it would be no surprise if the coronavirus statistics start climbing once again.

Our health experts and our political leaders can do only so much to keep us as safe as possible. The rest is up to each of us. Just because we can leave our home doesn't mean we have to. If you are one of the people in a especially threatened category -- older, with a weakened immune system or other underlying health conditions -- stay home. Hopefully, your boss will allow you to continue to work from home if possible. If you don't yet feel comfortable sitting in a restaurant with other diners, go through the drive-thru or available yourself of curbside pickup. Many grocery stores and pharmacies will deliver groceries and prescriptions to your home or you can pick them up curbside with no contact with employees.

If you do venture out, continue to practice social distancing and wear a mask. Don't shake hands -- we may never shake hands again -- when greeting others. Be sure to wash your hands often, for at least 20 seconds. If you can't wash your hands, use hand sanitizer with a two-thirds alcohol content. Following these basic precautions will go a long way toward keeping all of us safe and healthy.

Stopping the coronavirus pandemic is up to each of us.

Stay healthy, stay well, and when you shop, patronize our local businesses that have suffered so much in the past two months.

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