by Tom Torti, President of the Lake Champlain Chamber If you’re as old as me, you can remember a time when you could walk into any bar or restaurant and light up your tobacco product of choice. As the old saying goes, “your right to swing your fist ends right about where my nose begins.” Well, the scientific research came about that showed how second-hand smoke could be dangerous to those around you, and in the interest of our collective health, your right to puff smoke ended right about where my nose began. Today we face another public health crisis, of an epic proportion, and just merely breathing in a public space can do untold harm to the most vulnerable among us.
While there has been debate as to whether cloth masks protect you from incoming airborne pathogens, one thing is certain: they can prevent you from sharing whatever you have with others. You may not feel sick, however, you might be, and taking the simple precaution of wearing a mask when in close proximity to others can potentially save lives and control the spread of this once in a century pandemic.
Vermonters, for the most part, understand this with 61% of them saying they wore a mask when outside the home. Some municipalities and businesses have gone the extra step of requiring masks to enter their business. They have done this for the safety of you, their other customers, and their employees. Businesses are also developing alternatives to protect their customers and their employees, such as plexiglass barriers or added social distance that has become so commonplace in such a short time.
While not every business or municipality will subscribe to the “no shirt, no shoes, no mask, no service” position, as we slowly reopen you’ll notice that workers in stores and businesses around Vermont will be wearing masks to protect you. Please, be respectful, and extend them the same protection.
Vermont is leading the nation in response to this pandemic, and it is important that we continue to follow recommendations from our public health experts so that we do not erase the sacrifices so many have made as we reopen the economy. This will be a test of Vermonters’ resolve, as we graduate from the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order to the “Be Smart, Stay Safe” order. More of the onus is us to do what’s right by thinking about how our actions affect others. Customers, please continue to be smart, be safe, be selfless - and cover your face in public. Businesses, the Lake Champlain Chamber is here for you as always; you can find resources such as signage, language explaining your business choices around masks, and mask procurement sources, as well as many other helpful resources, on the Lake Champlain Chamber’s COVID-19 resource page at https://www.vermont.org/chamber/chamber-news/coronavirus-resource-guide/.