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Remember to Shop Smart as businesses reopen

It was good to have lunch as a dine-in customer Friday at Natchez Coffee Co.

That restaurant and a number of others who have opened up or are opening up soon are following the ShopSMART recommendations for doing business. I was happy to see the ShopSMART certificate on the door, and used the hand-sanitizing station just inside the door. Everyone was wearing a mask — employees and customers — as did I.

I’ve heard some business owners complain about having no recourse if a customer refuses to wear a mask or is obvious about flaunting experts’ recommendations about opening up. Surely, that puts business owners in a tough situation. Who wants to upset a potential customer? No one does, of course. But business owners are responsible for more than a single customer. They are responsible for their employees and other customers who are willing to follow the rules.

It seems pretty simple to me — no mask, no entry. The answer is to tell that customer they aren’t welcome until they are willing to play nicely with others.

Somehow I don’t think Sharon Brown, owner of Natchez Coffee Co., will have that problem.

Friday’s lunch was a little bit of getting back to normal, leaving me hopeful that before too long life will resume mostly as we knew it prior to March 2020.

While I’m hopeful — and I’m sure you are, too — it is so important that we follow the advice of experts and continue to be vigilant about washing hands, wearing masks and keeping a healthy social difference from everyone.

And, if you are among those in groups most susceptible to this virus — those who are elderly or have chronic conditions like diabetes or lung disease — you should continue to protect yourself by staying at home. It’s your responsibility to protect yourself. Yes, that’s tough. We are not solitary people. We crave human interaction. But if we will do it right now, it will save lives.

It has been mind numbing to see the conspiracy theorists in full bore on social media. One of my local Facebook friends posted a rather mild complaint about local governments extending stay at home orders several times, saying basically, enough is enough. Lots of us feel the same way.

One of his friends then commented, “More laws coming soon Democrat’s trying to make a mandatory testing for everyone and said they will use force if necessary! If you are positive you will be taken to concentration camps!” Quoted here exactly as written.

Someone else replied to this person, asking, “where did you see this?” The guy replied, “Sons of Liberty!”

That was good for a chuckle. There’s a non-biased news source right there. Note sarcasm.

Please don’t take as gospel everything that’s posted on social media. Check sources of information, particularly if something you read seems outlandish. We are better than that. Turn to your community journalists, who are working hard to cover this unusual and dangerous situation by bringing you accurate and sourced information about what’s going on here right at home.

Yes, we need to get back to work, but we need to be smart about it. And we need to take notes about things we need to prepare for when this is over. I’ll bet we’ve all taken a lot of lessons over the last 10 or 11 weeks.

We are not in this alone. Let’s be kind. Let’s think of each other. And let’s support local businesses in any way we can. That’s how we serve our community by protecting it at the same time.

Jan Griffey is general manager of The Natchez Democrat. Readers are invited to submit their opinions for publication. Contact her at 601-445-3627 or by emailing jan.griffey@natchezdemocrat.com.