"Governor Kathy Hochul has extended the mandate that masks be worn in all indoor spaces except your home, or where proof of vaccination is already required, until February 1, 2022.
The governor has left the responsibility of enforcement of this mandate to the individual counties, and I agree with this approach. The time for masks and mandates has passed. Accordingly, on Staten Island, the use of masks should be made entirely optional. Only by making this a personal decision are we respecting our individual freedoms, and trusting ourselves and our neighbors, to carry out these responsibilities with common sense.
Not only do we have limited resources, but also possess freewill. Staten Island has much better uses for our limited resources than citing individuals who are exercising their personal rights and beliefs.
Business owners, too, should not be punished for making choices of their own free will, or if they fail to follow seemingly arbitrary and ever-changing government mandates. They should be able to exercise their right to make common sense decisions, do whatever they believe is best for their businesses, and trust that customers will make their own personal choices.
Masks and a myriad of COVID restrictions have taken a toll on too many businesses and families, including school children. Children who have not been vaccinated have been and will be denied the opportunity to play indoor sports, or use their local athletic centers, community centers, and more. Some are being made to spend many days home from school learning remotely, if they are learning at all. I am convinced that such severity is not only unjustified by “the science” and statistics, but also harmful in ways we are already seeing, and which will continue to manifest themselves later.
Should these mandates continue, the toll taken on everyday life and the mental health of many will be significant. There needs to be a better balance. That balance should be determined by each of us individually.