Wouldn’t Mom be brought to tears if this was her Mother’s Day? This is what I thought when I watched that viral video on Twitter on Mother’s Day, May 10.
The video showed footage of C&C Breakfast and Korean Kitchen, a restaurant in Castle Rock, Colorado. It was packed to the brim with customers, both seated at tables and standing, with a line forming outside. The customers seemed completely indifferent to social distancing – you would think they were having a massive party. What’s more, I didn’t spot any customers donning masks. The video had raked up over 5.4 million views by the time I saw it and has sparked controversy throughout the U.S.
In an effort to suppress the spread of COVID-19, Colorado has issued an administrative order banning eating and drinking inside of restaurants. However, this business flouted orders and decided to reopen dining-in services on Mother’s Day. Some 500 customers demanding their freedom surged to the restaurant.
Nick Puckett, the journalist who posted the video, tweeted: “The owner said this is almost double a normal Mother’s Day.”
No Concerns for Masks or Social Distancing
We can guess the owner’s reasoning for resuming operations on Mother’s Day from her tweets: “We are standing for America, small businesses, the Constitution and against the overreach of our governor in Colorado!!”
There are voices advocating for economic freedom around the U.S. While there are some other movements to forcefully reopen businesses, this restaurant openly defied the governor’s orders by letting customers eat inside.
Outside the restaurant, apparently a sign was posted: “ATTENTION: Our freedom doesn’t end where your fear begins. If you are afraid to be within six feet of another person, do not enter this business!”
April Arellano, the owner of the restaurant, said she was thrilled at the unexpected number of customers. Local media reported that “she was not concerned at all by the fact no customers wore masks or chose to social distance themselves. Arellano said she did not believe the crowd of people in her business was a public health hazard.” She herself stated, “We in the service industry have been taking precautions for years … We wash and sanitize everything anyway … I know a lot of things are run by fear. I don’t have that fear.”
Customer Linda Schattilly said that she supported the business opening. “I’m not afraid to be out. I’m not going to wear a mask. I’m healthy. I’m in good shape, and I don’t think it’s as serious as they say,” she stated.
It’s no surprise that the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment forced the restaurant to close immediately after.
COVID-19 Capitalizes on America’s Weaknesses
Twitter was flooded with sarcastic comments and criticism toward the restaurant’s owner and customers:
“Please give your employees and customers a wrist band stating they refuse lifesaving medical care when they end up in the hospital. Not one healthcare worker should have to risk their own life to save any of you.”*
“You truly exemplify the all too common quality of wrongheaded self-assuredness in the face of empirical evidence. Selfish, stupid, self-important, immature, irresponsible.”*
“Happy Mother’s day I brought you a case of covid-19 hope you survive.”*
“Colorado has about 3,500 cases per million people. South Korea has about 220 per million. One guy in South Korea went on a bar crawl last weekend and infected at least 50 other people. All bars and clubs are shut down again. What if just one of these brunchers is contagious?”
“This is going to age well in two weeks.”*
“500 of the 675 ventilators in CO are currently in use. That maybe the next line they maybe waiting in next.”*
Freedom of Choice?
On the other hand, there were also many comments touting freedom of choice in support of the restaurant’s reopening:
“I can’t believe some of these responses. Were these people herded unwillingly into this restaurant? I doubt it. They made an adult decision as we should all be allowed to do. If you are afraid to get sick stay home. It’s as simple as that. We should all make our own choices.”
The freedom of choice – it’s one of America’s most prized liberties. Yet asserting this right while COVID-19 poses a public health threat means bringing out the risk of more infections and, in the worst-case scenario, more deaths. If you want to take the risk of going to a restaurant in close contact with others without wearing a mask just to revel in your freedom of choice, well then that’s nothing but pure ego. You don’t jeopardize just your own life, you risk infecting and taking the lives of others. There’s no justifying freedoms such as these that come with such great risks.
Actually, the number of sarcastic comments regarding this freedom of choice have also been on the rise: “Where’s my say when you and your customers spread a known disease to me?” [Note: possibly not the exact tweet, but similar in sentiment.]
Right now, even as infection rates and death tolls rise around the world, countries are taking measures to ease restrictions and reopen their economies. As a result, a club in Korea experienced mass infections and Germany witnessed a clear increase in infections just a matter of days after it relaxed part of its lockdown. I can’t help but to think that individual egos, trying to take back freedoms after two months of suppression, were behind all of this.
Do Your Part!
You often hear people shouting the phrase “Do your part” in COVID-19 America.
Right now, many people are doing their part in the fight against COVID-19.
Patients are fighting to survive. Health care workers are fighting to save those patients and risking infection themselves. Scientists around the world are fighting day and night through their research to make vaccines and cures.
In the middle of all this, what part do we play in the fight against COVID-19?
I think we can find the answer from the terrible example that restaurant in Colorado set; we can do our part by staying at home and practicing social distancing as much as possible. Even if we have some freedoms handed back out to us, don’t grasp at them without thinking just because your ego tells you to. This is because, as experts have been pointing out to us, if we stop doing our part, we will witness another steep surge in infections and deaths.
*Editor’s note: Although accurately translated, the quoted remark could not be fully verified.