Restrictions have been lifted, its our job to keep it that way
Since March 19, our way of life here in Jenks has changed dramatically due to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Coronavirus has dominated the headlines across the globe since early March and as we enter the end of spring and see summer around the corner, we are desperately wanting to get back to some sense of normalcy.
March 19 was the first time the City of Jenks began climbing down the ladder of restrictions and by March 29, the “Shelter In Place” order was issued by the Jenks City Council.
Monday at a special meeting, the City Council unanimously voted to end the “Shelter In Place” order Friday and allow most businesses to re-open under strict social distancing guidelines.
“We are not limiting capacities, but capacities are going to be limited by how many people businesses can accommodate while practicing social distancing,” Jenks Mayor Robert Lee said. “We are wanting people to keep a good distance of at least six feet and wear masks. We are not saying that everything is okay and to go out and gather with as many people as you can. For my family and I, we are working from home and we are only leaving to pick up groceries and medications, but I understand not everyone has that luxury.”
Gatherings of more than 10 people are still prohibited within the six-feet social distancing. Bars that do not serve food will remain closed and those who are the age of 65 and older are being asked to still practice the “Shelter In Place” policy.
“This is the guidance we are getting from the (Oklahoma) governor (Kevin Stitt) and from the White House,” Jenks City Manager Chris Shrout said. “This is guidance to our businesses, but there is no actual new ordinance with an enforcement mechanism. We are aligning with the governor and hopefully other municipalities in the region. Our plan is to use this phased-in approach similar to what the governor and White House recommend.”
On Monday when the previous ordinances were repealed, there was no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the City of Jenks. Tuesday, there was one confirmed case.
There is no question that the actions that have been taken to help stop the spread have worked, but there is a good chance we will see a rise in numbers once we officially open back up this weekend.
“We have every indication that as things start to open and people start moving around more, we will see an increase in positive cases,” Lee said. “What we are trying to do is allow these businesses to open just enough and long enough, so they can have a lifeline for the time being. Whenever this clears up entirely, we want these businesses to still be in business. We want to give them a chance to make some money while there is a lull in cases here with the anticipation we may have to go back to where we were with more intense social distancing requirements. This is little bit of a reprieve here with the low number of cases right now.”
As a business owner, I don’t want to see that happen. I don’t want to watch other businesses open up and start operating and making money again to see it all be taken away because of a spike in case numbers.
I went to Lowes this past weekend and saw people packed into a place and not practicing any type of social distancing.
I struggled understanding how that was considered safer than going to a golf course to play a round of golf or a tennis court to play a game of tennis.
I believe in people having the personal responsibility to make the right decisions and be smart in a time like this, but seeing people who don’t make quality decisions is irritating because they are delaying the process of when we can all look in the rearview mirror and wave goodbye to the Coronavirus.
“When we are responding to a pandemic that spreads around like this, we have to do everything we can to keep that from happening,” Lee said. “People that have been most opposed to the ‘Shelter In Place’ order are saying we don’t need to do this and to give people personal responsibility to do the right thing. I haven’t seen a lot of evidence of that.”
Governor Stitt began the Phase I opening of the state April 24. Like any other politician, Stitt has drawn a lot of criticism and praise for his actions taken throughout this epidemic. He believes getting the local economy back up and running as soon as possible will help give this state the boost it needs to get through this time.
Lee does not share in that sentiment.
“The first weekend I was encouraging people to stay home and flatten the curve, the governor is out at a crowded restaurant tweeting about it and posting selfies with his family,” Lee said. “This is the same guy that is saying personal responsibility is the way to go. If we can’t expect the governor to exercise personal responsibility to slow the spread, I don’t know how fair it is to count on the general public to do the right thing in every circumstance. I have faith people will make good decisions, but we are going to see the limits of that.”
Whether you agree with Governor Stitt or Mayor Lee, we are getting our chance to prove to our state and city officials that we can, in fact, handle the personal responsibility.
The restrictions have been lifted, its our job to keep it that way.