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Protocol essential as businesses open doors to customers

Be careful out there.

Just because Lycoming County’s district attorney has decided he will not prosecute businesses that choose to defy state closure orders does not mean we’ve won the battle against COVID-19 and it’s safe to venture out like we did last summer.

Far from it.

The past two and a half months have been about “flattening the curve” and enabling our health care systems to be able to handle the load that inevitably will come as part of the ongoing public health crisis.

Now that we see some counties in our region moving into the green phase, and we anticipate seeing green in all of our region before long, the temptation certainly is there to get out and about.

We are social creatures, after all.

Still, the threat is not over.

Not yet.

We must continue to be very, very careful, but we must also get on with life and business. It’s quite the conundrum in which we find ourselves at this moment.

At the start, we watched as the world shut down with an oft-repeated phrase — “out of an abundance of caution.”

We also have watched the local business community struggle, the unemployment numbers rise and the stock market plummet.

None of us can afford to sit idly by and watch the coronavirus kill the economy. At some point, we must have the courage to venture out into a world where we are able to earn a living, provide for our families, pay our bills and carry on.

We need to do this in measured and extremely careful ways.

“Despite our collective pursuit of returning to a state of normalcy, all residents and business owners should be cognizant of the fact that we all remain vulnerable to this virus,” District Attorney Ryan C. Gardner cautioned in announcing that his office will not pursue criminal charges against businesses that choose to open before they are given the go-ahead from the state.

He is correct. While we, too, want to see businesses reopen, they must do so with precautionary measures in place. And those who wish to get out to these businesses must respect the protocol that has been put in place.

Wash your hands. Wear a mask. Maintain your distance.

And do one more thing: Be kind to one another.

This situation requires gentle handling.

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