Opinion: It’s time to open the Big Apple

Sixth Avenue is a ghost town during the economic shutdown to stem the spread of COVID-19.
Photo by Todd Maisel

It’s time to open the Big Apple — and the country — again.

Of course, many of my Democratic friends will demonize this as prioritizing the economy over public health. However, these two are related, and there is a middle ground.

The current U.S. unemployment is 14.7 percent, a number not seen since the Great Depression. Economic experts say this can surge to over 20 percent over the next several weeks if we keep the country closed for business. These are not just statistics, these are people’s lives. For every business that is closed, there are countless New Yorkers and Americans that are not getting paychecks.

The anxiety of not being able to put food on the table affects one’s mental and physical health. People are scared and becoming more desperate with each locked down day. Any reasonable person would agree that this leads to more suicides, and makes a bad situation worse for those with drug and alcohol addictions, and is creating more addicts.  

Of course, we can keep everything shut until there are zero coronavirus cases, or until there is a vaccine. However, the cost would be too much. The facts clearly show that it is seniors and those with pre-existing conditions that are the most adversely affected by the virus. Therefore, these groups should continue to follow the current precautions and all should be done to protect them. In addition, there should be robust testing, especially for our vulnerable populations, by states. This is the middle ground. 

However, the vast majority of New Yorkers and Americans, who face minimal risk, must have the chance to get back to their lives and make money.  

Our free market system and individual liberty has made us the greatest nation on earth. We should let it guide us out of this shut down. Let businesses open today and they will implement protocols that work for them and their customers. Obviously, their goal will be to bring back business and their entrepreneurship will lead the way. 

Taking care of one’s health, which includes social distancing and the wearing of face masks, is a personal responsibility and choice, just as it is for engaging in other risky behaviors. Government can threaten a summons but people make the final decision.   

For example, in Castle Rock, Colorado this past Mother’s Day, C&C Coffee and Kitchen opened their doors against the governor’s orders. There was no social distancing. The result was a packed restaurant with a line around the corner. For these patrons, the benefits of celebrating Mother’s Day out and interacting with others outweighed the risk of being adversely affected by the coronavirus. 

We must trust the American people to make the best choices for their families, and not limit their choices by telling them they can’t work or go out.

Those who are not “essential” workers have a right to provide for their families also.

Bob Capano has worked for Brooklyn Republican and Democrat elected officials, and has been an adjunct political science professor for over 15 years. Follow him on Twitter @bobcapano.