At this point, the phrase “let us out – please” is a mantra for us. We’ve been self-quarantined for quite a while. And we’re yearning to get out of the house. So, what should be okay for us to do? And who should decide what we can do?
What Should Be Okay for Us to Do?
Up to this point, many of us have been limited to these out-of-the-house activities: walking/exercising by ourselves, grocery shopping, and going to the pharmacy. Some may have also used curbside pickups.
But, now what? As the number of states “opening up” hits double digits, which of these DO YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE DOING? For which will you wait? First, we focus on discretionary activities — those that we voluntarily choose to engage in.
As we noted, the above are voluntary. That is, they are our choice. However, other activities may soon be required of us. Without them being at our discretion. These include:
- Returning to work or school.
- Walking on busy streets.
- Taking mass transit.
- Using elevators
- Using public bathrooms.
- Being less than six feet apart from other employees/students while working or attending class.
- Being required to wear masks/gloves for lengthy time periods during the day.
- Staying in dormitory housing.
That leads us to our second question.
Who Should Decide What We Can Do?
Wow. This has turned into a real “hot button” question. And there are lots of possible answers.
Recently, there have been protests around the U.S. about required self-quarantining. Those protesters believe too much has been shut down. And that they should be able to choose their activities. On the other hand, the vast majority of those polled believe that mandatory self-quarantining is necessary to enforce social distancing rules.
Before outlining possible decision makers, we must address the elephant in the room. Can we and our fellow Americans be trusted to adhere to voluntary social distancing rules? Or must these rules be legally mandated to be followed?
Unfortunately, for a sizable number of people, “voluntary” means that these rules don’t apply to me. Let’s try to be apolitical here. With blue and red state examples. In New York City, some people continued to go to parks, play outdoor basketball, etc. This lasted until rules were more strictly enforced. In Florida, some people do not practice social distancing while going to reopened beaches. That state is leaving it up to residents to self-regulate themselves.
Now, let’s outline just some of those who are making decisions that affect our health and livelihoods:
- Federal government and agencies
- State governments and agencies
- Local governments and agencies
- Specific authorities (such as mass transit)
- Public institutions (such as libraries and schools)
- Private institutions (such as banks)
- Employers (both public and private)
- US [intentionally listed last]
At this juncture, the preceding mix of responsibilities and authority seem rather disjointed. That is why interesting times are ahead.