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Following rules when others won’t

A local restaurant owner has been defying regulations for the containment of COVID-19, forcing the hand of Allegheny County health inspectors.

Mask-wearing is not required at the restaurant. Paring down the number of patrons within the eatery has not been done.

So, the owner has been cited and has been ordered to close, which she has refused to do.

Her defiance has landed her in the state court system. Her defiance has spurred her to sue the county Health Department in federal court. She has filed for bankruptcy.

Restaurant owners and their employees, undeniably and obviously, have been damaged by the pandemic. They are not alone. Many businesses are suffering financial hardship from rules that have been put in place in an attempt to stem the spread of a virus that has killed and sickened millions the world over.

The instinct to survive is at the core of human nature. For some business owners, that survival instinct translates to flouting the health mandates that they believe threaten their livelihoods. For them, it is an existential crisis — a question of whether their businesses survive. Those businesses put food on the tables of the owners and employees alike.

The local restaurant owner who has been ordered to close is unlikely to be the only business owner who has gone rogue when it comes to compliance with state protocols for COVID-19 mitigation. It is all but certain that, throughout the region, perhaps in locales without health code enforcement officers, similar defiance is in evidence at restaurants and other enterprises.

The community understands. The community sympathizes.

Nonetheless, the greater good must prevail.

A business owner who depends on patrons for survival may be excused for a lack of wisdom and self-control during a fight for her livelihood, her life. But customers and clients are called to be more levelheaded.

The greater misdeed is being committed by those who patronize a business that is not following rules that are based on the best science available at this moment. And that best science calls for masks and social distancing.

People are dying and falling ill. Businesses are closing and hovering on the edge of solvency. These are the facts, sobering and sad.

The answer is not to be found in an every-man-for-himself approach in the battle against the coronavirus enemy. That’s the strategy at play among business owners who refuse to comply with health regulations; they are putting their own interest above that of the wider community. Clearsightedness shows us an unquestionable truth: In the COVID-19 fight, we each share the battlefield. We fall together. We rise together. So we must stick together. And that means following the rules no matter how painful.

Online: http://bit.ly/36Gqsb7

* Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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