No shirt, no shoes, no service.


It’s a widely recognized sign, and one that passes without comment. We understand that business owners set rules, and that if we want to patronize their establishments, we have to follow them. It’s just how things work.


So now that business owners are adding face masks to that list, along with other commonsense requirements to limit coronavirus spread, why are some of us freaking out?


Public health officials have been clear. Masks work. And they don’t work because they prevent every infection, just as condoms don’t necessarily prevent every single case of venereal disease. No, masks work because they reduce the spread of virus-laden droplets, especially from people who might be infected but not know it.


Likewise, such other measures as keeping six feet apart and reducing crowding are based in the best, most current knowledge of ways to reduce our risk of contracting COVID-19. They aren’t foolproof, but they’re important tools absent a vaccine.


So why yell at workers who ask you to wear a mask?


Why crowd people in line when you’re supposed to keep your distance?


Why act as though it’s your God-given right to get other people sick?


Masks and public health precautions shouldn’t become another cultural battlefield. Yes, liberals are concerned about public health. But so are conservatives. And conservatives are known to advocate for the right of businesses to set their own policies and guidelines. If businesses want to require masks, that’s within their rights.


What’s missing from conversations about masks and public safety thus far is a basic point. If customers feel unsafe, they’re not going to leave their homes.


Businesses react to the needs and desires of customers. That means they want to ensure that people feel safe. Might that mean they overreact here and there? Sure. But that’s the way they build trust and rebuild their clientele.


Making everyone feel safe and protected will be critical to restoring economic activity. Business owners are on the case, and customers should support them in doing so.


What’s more, other members of the public have a role to play, too. If you believe it’s important that our economy roar back to life, that others spend money and patronize local establishments, then help build that trust with your own actions.


Wear the mask. Keep your distance. Be kind.