As usual, there’s a lot of attention to the details of Gov. John Bel Edwards’ restrictions on particular businesses in the coming weeks.
That is more than understandable, it is inevitable. Closing or greatly reducing business in bars hurts owners and employees, besides making the winter duller for many of us. Restrictions on restaurants, ditto, although some of Edwards’ detailed restrictions are less onerous on them.
But if you’re a high-end restaurant in New Orleans, dependent on the now-vanished tourist trade, employees and proprietors still take a huge additional hit with any restrictions.
But in the course of the discussion, we think a couple of things should be the overriding elements.
One is that the coronavirus is real and that these are not the governor’s restrictions but the coronavirus restrictions. Further, Edwards has acted all along in general agreement with the requirements of President Donald Trump’s White House task force.
“This year has been tragic and sad and we finally have the hope of better therapeutics and a vaccine, which means the end of the pandemic is in our sights,” the governor said last week. “Now is not the time to let down our guard simply because it is Christmas or New Year’s Eve.”
The new and only slightly adjusted restrictions continue through Jan. 21. Probably unintentionally, that means Democrats have to be cautious about celebrating their new president, sworn in during that time.
For most of us in Louisiana, it means caution and respect for others in the New Year and the formal beginning of Carnival on Twelfth Night, too. It’s a lot to ask.
But these are not ultimately the decisions of the governor, the White House or any single other authority. They represent the consensus of medical opinion in this country and the world. Those who wish to play the political blame game — and there are businesses and workers genuinely suffering — ought to be made to declare what their alternatives might be.
If that question is not answered, we have a hard time taking seriously the critics, among them, the Republican members of the state House of Representatives, who tried to suspend the emergency declarations entirely. That is tied up in court, a needless case forced upon Edwards by reckless actions by one house in the two-chamber Legislature.
What ought to be top-of-mind in our duller January? It is that broad actions by the community are the most important path toward ending this crisis. Social distancing, fewer or smaller or even no social gatherings, respect for others by wearing masks — those must be the public’s agenda.
If one man should be a warning to all of us, it is Luke Letlow, just elected to the U.S. Congress, forced into ICU by COVID-19 treatments. He has faith and the hardihood of being in the prime of life, but even Letlow at Christmas was taken away, temporarily, from his lovely young family by this pandemic.
Wear the mask, do what is asked of you, for others if not only yourself.