Daniel Suddeath

The shutdown was sudden, but the reopening has resembled more of a snail’s pace than the sprint some believed we’d see once the economy began to restart.

One could count more television reporters from across the Ohio River in New Albany’s downtown Monday than customers out and about deciding which restaurant to enter. Understandably our neighbors to the south are curious as to how we will handle the partial reopening, and Mondays aren’t exactly the busiest day of the week for restaurants, but largely the city’s dining establishments appeared to be waiting to open their doors to in-person service as opposed to rushing back into business as usual after two tough months of being regulated to curbside pickup or delivery.

This is emblematic of the crisis to date. Do we need government regulations forced upon us in order to keep ourselves safe, or are most of us smart enough and disciplined enough to follow the suggestions of those who know more about health than what they gleaned from a Facebook post?

Unfortunately, the jury is still out.

We are a society that focuses on the extremes and the polar opposites. Those who make the most noise get the most attention, even if they represent a small minority of public thought.

We know some are upset that businesses were ever required to close, and they’ve protested at statehouses and loudly opposed basic precautions such as wearing a face mask because they argue that it threatens their freedom.

As an aside, we are really going to be in a pickle if we’re attacked by another country or face an obstacle that requires total sacrifice. The fact that some believe that wearing a face mask and working from home for a few months is oppression shows just how spoiled we’ve become as a society.

On the polar opposite side of the extremism coin, we have those who believe we should shut everything down for months on end and not step outside our homes for fear that we may be infected with COVID-19. While it may be comforting to some to place themselves in a bubble where they have complete safety, it’s just not practical. We have to find a medium where people can practice social distancing while businesses are allowed to operate as long as they follow health and safety guidelines.

The past week in Southern Indiana has shown that can occur, and it’s also proven that we have a long way to go before masses of people will feel comfortable eating inside a restaurant.

Most people are sensible enough to protect themselves and aren’t going to hoard into the local diner or pub until they feel it’s reasonably safe. But there are outliers, and there are those who won’t listen to the advice of medical professionals, so there must remain some government oversight to thwart a second wave of the coronavirus.

Business will increase as more people feel comfortable re-entering the public domain, but we’re a long way from recovery and normalcy. There will have to be some creative thinking for businesses to survive even after capacity restrictions are lifted because consumers are scared about the future after seeing how quickly our economy can crumble.

There’s also the unknown as to whether the virus will be even more widespread during the fall and winter. We are living the definition of a fluid situation.

The hesitancy to dive back into normal life isn’t just affecting businesses. Many churches declined to reopen last weekend despite the governor lifting the order that closed in-service worship.

Ultimately, we’ll all have to make our own decisions about what chances we feel are appropriate to take. Our government is watching, and no, I’m not talking about a 5G conspiracy. Officials are observing how we handle reopening and if the virus spreads at a much higher rate as a result.

It behooves us to be responsible. The door to our old way of life is nudged slightly open. Let’s not have it slammed shut because of careless actions.

Daniel Suddeath is the Senior Reporter of the News and Tribune. Reach him at, and follow him on Twitter @DsuddeathNT.

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