Opinion: Don’t punish local businesses

Though COVID restrictions on local businesses make sense, they also cruelly punish business owners at a time where they need more support


AnneLaure Artaud

Right now, Illinois restaurants and bars are supposed to be closed to indoor dining. Though this helps stop the spread of COVID-19, it unfairly punishes the small business who should not have to bear the brunt of the pandemic.

Ciara Duncan, Features Editor

Humans have witnessed countless horrible, traumatic events — events that have left them seeking out any form of solidarity they can find, begging on their knees for better days, and wondering how they’d ever survive something like that. But, no matter what Earth and all of its many inhabitants have experienced, they’ve always continued to persevere.

So, it’s understandable that small-business owners, more specifically restaurant-owners, would be doing the same despite a state-wide ban on indoor dining.

As of November 4, Illinois restaurants both big and small were prohibited from allowing patrons to dine indoors. Instead, they were encouraged to continue providing takeout and delivery services to customers, an act that has become the lifeline for many Illinois businesses. 

Along with this, as of November 20, Illinois reverted back to Tier 3 mitigations, placing restrictions on all different kinds of businesses. Governor J.B. Pritzker ordered both of these initiatives to combat the climbing COVID-19 cases being seen in Illinois. As of December 6, the state has reached an all-time high of about 150 COVID-related deaths per day.

If America is to stop this virus, the country has to initiate some serious measures. Our progress has lagged behind other developed countries including Australia, New Zealand, Iceland, Singapore, Belgium, Thailand, and China, and the effects of this is showing. Our nation, among others, is struggling to take back control over our nation’s economy, health, and overall spirit. Along with this, our country has had the highest death rate out of any other. 

At the time of writing, America as a whole has lost over 350,000 citizens to the virus. It is both pessimistic and morally wrong to assume that the COVID-19 virus is never going away, so Americans should have the right to return to life as normal. Just because America is not handling this situation well does not mean that the entire nation should simply throw in the towel.

But, this also does not mean that we should put the blame onto restaurant owners. During a pandemic, certain situations and actions put a person more at risk, including exposure to the virus for a period of longer than fifteen minutes. Unfortunately, restaurants just so happen to be a place where this is more likely. Why punish citizens who just so happened to be in the wrong business at the wrong time? They are stuck in a tough situation where they are simply trying to keep both them and their families afloat, and they should be treated as such. 

In a pandemic where almost everyone in America is suffering financially, imposing an unfunded mandate on strictly restaurants alone is cruel, and makes it much less likely that they are going to follow the rules. If the government wants restaurants and other businesses to listen, there should be increased financial support for them so that they do.

The ban on indoor dining is a good idea in theory. But, in real life, it is immoral to give certain businesses special treatment over others. All businesses should be allowed to operate during a pandemic, big or small. Instead, it should be the citizens themselves who refrain from partaking in indoor dining. After all, it is every citizen’s responsibility to help stop the spread of COVID-19.