Arguing for a total reopening

May 29, 2020

For decades, the Cape Gazette has argued that when it comes to governing, education is better than regulation. Obviously, tough and rapid measures are required when an unknown, deadly virus like COVID-19 begins killing off members of our population by the dozens. But when we as a society – in particular a small state like Delaware – start to get more comfortable with the behavior of the disease, and who it affects and how, we can sensibly pressure those governing us to shift from a meat-ax approach to a scalpel approach.

That pressuring is in full swing now, as is the loosening of restrictions, partly in response to the pressure, partly in response to declining numbers of hospitalizations and critical cases. At the same time, the state is upping its efforts at public awareness and education so people – armed with knowledge – can regulate their own activities to protect others and themselves.

When that collective knowledge becomes ingrained in young and old, like looking both ways before crossing a street, and becomes more widespread than the coronavirus itself, people – for whom survival is instinctive – will regulate themselves. But the messaging must be constant and loud.

The task of easing restrictions slowly is becoming even more daunting, especially now that quarantining and short-term rental bans have been lifted. As the misguided roadblocks on Route 1 prior to Memorial Day weekend graphically demonstrated, widespread enforcement is practically impossible.

Most recent easing has led to allowing gatherings of no more than 250 people for events such as weddings, so long as guidelines related to social distancing and masking are observed. That leans in the direction of trusting people – again, armed with knowledge about the dangers of the virus lurking around them – to do the right thing for themselves and those around them.

It’s time to end this piecemeal approach and switch gears completely. Let’s open Delaware completely for business while continuing to ramp up awareness education and aggressively addressing hot spots with precision, for the benefit of all of us.

  • Editorials are considered by the editorial board and written by Dennis Forney, Publisher Emeritus, with occasional contributions from other board members: Trish Vernon, CoPublisher and Editor; Dave Frederick, Sports Editor Emeritus; Jen Ellingsworth, Associate Editor; Nick Roth, Sports Editor; and Chris Rausch, CoPublisher and General Manager.

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