The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Editoral-Lifting mandates creates new risks

Amber Davis/The Collegian

As of today, the state of Texas is completely open. Mask mandates have been lifted and crowds of any size are legally free to gather, social distancing be damned. Any business can operate at full capacity — meaning bars, restaurants, water parks and nightclubs running like its February of last year.

About 45,000 dead Texans will not be joining us for what Gov. Greg Abbott calls an end to “government running our lives.”

To Abbott and his supporters, this decision cmes in the name of personal freedom. The COVID-19 precautions that have become common knowledge over the last year are still heavily encouraged, Abbott said, just not enforced. This is apparently about letting private citizens make their own informed health decisions. 

Maybe this would be a fair approach if ignoring safety protocol affected only the individual doing so. But, as is the nature of a virus, that just isn’t the case. COVID-19 restrictions are meant to protect the population as a whole. Like a recent popular internet slogan says, “I wear a mask for you, you wear a mask for me.” 

Lifting these mandates means putting the lives of the vulnerable in the hands of the reckless. 

Abbott was quick to point out during his press conference one week ago that this lift is really only a technicality. Before this, he said, businesses were already at 75% capacity and mask laws were never widely enforced to begin with. So why embolden people to act out?

This puts businesses in a tough spot. A business owner can choose one of two paths — open completely and put their employees and patrons at risk, or continue with mask orders and lose money to a competitor that didn’t. 

There’s also the issue of unruly patrons lashing out at businesses who choose to still require safety protocol, something already reported by several Texas restaurants. 

Business has already suffered enormously from the financial ramifications of COVID-19. This is precisely why Abbott’s rushed decision is in bad taste. Rather than providing direct aid, he’s leaving business owners alone to fend for themselves. 

The answer is not to set laws back one year and hope that everything naturally resets, not while the virus is still rampant. Doing so is a gamble — one that, if lost, will be paid for in life. 

Government should be capable of providing aid to people who are struggling. Recent attempts at this have been less than ideal, with a third too-little-too-late stimulus package approved just last week, but it can at least hypothetically happen.

What government cannot do — not in any capacity at all ­­— is bring the dead back to life.

Recovery takes time. Vaccines are rolling out. There is light at the end of the tunnel, but as Texans recover from a winter storm that left millions without power, it would be a shame for this light to go out too. 

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