That's how one correspondent describes moving from Virginia to Florida.
Until recently, I’ve been at school in Loudoun County, Virginia, where Gov. Ralph Northam has been busy inflicting harsher shutdown orders. Masks are required almost everywhere up there, and big gatherings are out of the question. Multiple friends had to cancel their wedding receptions this month due to the new restrictions.
I got so used to wearing a mask that every time I watched a movie it seemed odd for the actors to be bare-faced. Leaving a store, sometimes I’d make it all the way to the car before even realizing I still had my mask on.
It wasn’t until I came home to Florida — where COVID-19 restrictions are much freer and usually left to local government — that I noticed how different life was. On my flight home, I reached from my seat by the window to hand my snack wrapper to the flight attendant. The older gentleman next to me took it from my hand to pass it along. It caught me off guard: this stranger was willing to touch something that I had eaten from? He wasn’t afraid of my germs?
Thoughtful gestures that had always been normal suddenly seemed surprising — which made me realize how many of those everyday connections we’ve lost this year. Since I’ve spent some time in Florida, life has felt incredibly normal. It’s also revealed how abnormal the lifestyle I followed in Virginia really was.
For one, I didn’t realize how much I was missing by not seeing people’s faces. I don’t object to people wearing masks if they feel safer; it’s their personal health decision. But when I arrived at the airport to see my family for the first time since August (mid-semester breaks were another COVID casualty), I could actually see their faces.
I went to a café to study the other day and walked past a young pregnant mother with her toddler in tow. None of us were masked, and the toddler and I got to smile and wave at each other as we passed.
. . .
While the chain coffee shops like Starbucks and Dunkin’ are closed to indoor patrons, my favorite local coffeeshop is open and more popular than ever. (And why buy overpriced, mediocre chain coffee anyway?) Looking around, I only see one customer wearing a mask, and only one of the baristas.
There’s a sign taped to the door that says, “The city council feels it is at their best interest to infringe upon your personal constitutional right and feel they can manage your life better than you. We will not do this…we will not force you to wear a mask!”
“All are welcome and we appreciate your supporting local,” the sign adds. I went Saturday morning with my family and we had to wait for a table; we ran into an old friend while we were there. That same day, we went to the downtown farmers’ market. Vendors offered free samples and sold fresh produce, a live musician sang “Folsom Prison Blues,” and no one told me to wear a mask.
I’ve flown in and out of the Orlando airport all my life, and I’ve never seen it half as crowded as it was this month. I can only guess that people are coming down to Florida because it’s open here. People are taking precautions, sure, but they’re also continuing to live their lives.
There's more at the link.
I guess those of us in "free states" don't realize how bad things are in the "unfree states". Our local and state governments do their best to implement reasonable, common-sense measures against the pandemic, but they expect us to use our common sense, and don't impose unreasonable, unjustifiable policies that will meet with widespread resistance. (They know they'll be out of office next election if they do!) Those who have pre-existing health conditions that make wearing a mask difficult, like asthma, COPD, etc., are specifically exempted from the need to do so, which is both intelligent and very helpful. Miss D. and I both fall into some of those categories, and we appreciate the consideration shown to us by our Governor.
In harder-hit cities, sure, the local authorities have implemented stricter measures, and they're probably right to do so; but in the "free states" those in charge recognize that there isn't a "one-size-fits-all" approach. It has to be tailored to local needs. In the "unfree states", they long ago lost sight of that in favor of a "rule-by-diktat" approach - and it's failing. Look at the statistics for infection, recovery and death. They're far higher in the "unfree" states than in the others. There's a reason for that, and it's not that the COVID-19 virus prefers them for some reason!