Letter: New mandates are onerous for private businesses

Posted 12/23/21

To the editor:Last week, our governor announced a new round of COVID-19 executive orders that will affect the entire state, including right here in Bristol. And while I've been generally supportive …

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Letter: New mandates are onerous for private businesses

Posted

To the editor:

Last week, our governor announced a new round of COVID-19 executive orders that will affect the entire state, including right here in Bristol. And while I've been generally supportive of Dan McKee in his brief tenure as governor, I strongly disagree with his latest round of executive orders regarding the state’s response to the pandemic.

Like everyone else locally, nationally and internationally, my everyday life has been affected to some degree by the pandemic and the response to it by government leaders. And while I have no problem with individual businesses choosing to implement their own restrictions and adjust the way they do business, the problem I have is when government steps in and unilaterally imposes mandates and restrictions.

The perfect case in point occurred for me recently, when I competed in the Portland, Maine Marathon road race. At that race, all competitors were required to show proof of vaccination in order to compete, and in addition, were required to wear a mask in the starting area prior to the race, all while taking place outdoors. And while I found these requirements to be an overreaction, the key point is that they were not imposed by the state of Maine or the city of Portland, but rather by the race organizers — a completely private entity.

On the day of this particular race, I could have driven just a few miles away to a different road race in Maine with no mask or vaccination requirements whatsoever, as the state of Maine left it up to individual businesses on how they wanted to operate their events and businesses.

Unfortunately, the state of Rhode Island has chosen to go in an entirely different direction, choosing to impose onerous and cumbersome mandates which will require local restaurants, bars, gyms, stores, etc. to become the mask and vax police, and will not only be burdensome and difficult for them to enforce, but will also lead to an increase in non-compliance, civil disobedience, and perhaps even escalate into situations which will require the intervention of law enforcement.

The bottom line here is that it should be left to the discretion of individual businesses on the measures they feel most comfortable with in regard to masking and vaccinations, and it is surely not the governor or government entity who should be dictating how private individuals choose to run their private businesses. Numerous health experts have warned that this pandemic could easily last for another five years, and if these overreaching government mandates continue for that amount of time, thousands of small businesses will be decimated.

Once again, I have no problem showing my vaccination card or wearing a mask at my favorite establishment, but the decision to implement those mask and vax requirements should be made by the individual businesses — not by the government.

Mike Proto
245 Chestnut St.

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.