In the absence of a vaccine, more effective treatment and extensive testing, some of the most effective tools to stop the spread of COVID-19 include wearing a face covering, social distancing, and frequent hand washing. Not all entities are using these three tools.
Decatur residents want safety guidelines enforced. The city conducted a COVID-19 Awareness and Impact Survey between April 22 – May 6 in which 1,688 residents responded. Based on the responses to the survey’s open-ended question, citizens had three main concerns: “… better enforcement of measures particularly at shops and big stores …” (such as social distancing), “… wearing masks in public to be made mandatory …”, and “a call for a slow, calculated and monitored reopening of the economy ...”
Safety guidelines have been issued for entities ranging from retail stores to schools. For example, employees at restaurants and bars should wear face coverings and tables should be at least 6 feet apart. Many establishments are following the guidelines, but not all.
One way to address citizen concerns is by requiring entities that sell liquor or engage in video gambling to follow safety guidelines as a condition of the licenses they obtain from the city. Licensed establishments that do not could be fined (the fines might in turn be used to provide COVID-19-related aid).
Decatur’s economic recovery will require citizens having assurance that the entities they frequent are safe, and I am very thankful to the many individuals and entities that are following safety guidelines. When entities refuse to follow guidelines, it can corrode confidence in both the entity and the city. The Decatur City Council can and should instill confidence that our city is and will remain safe. This can be achieved through greater enforcement of COVID-19 safety guidelines.