I'm sitting here with the news on, listening to people trying to justify going against the current Stay in Place orders, wanting to open their nonessential businesses. And the argument across the board is Operating my business is my right as an American.
Here's the thing.
Your rights end where someone else's begin.
You have the right of free speech; you cannot yell Fire in a public venue. Why? Your right to free speech ends when the safety of others is in play.
You have freedom of expression; you cannot paint your neighbor's house as any sort of statement. It's not yours to do with as you please.
You have freedom of religion; you cannot chuck rocks at someone's head no matter how strong a commandment it might be. And that's right there in the Bible, stoning adulterers. I don't recommend trying it.
So you can be as frustrated as you want; your right to operate a legal business is suspended when having it open might inflict illness upon someone else. It's that basic. It is fair, even when it doesn't feel like it is. And yes, you would be careful, you would practice stringent sanitizing, only allow X number of people in at a time, and you're healthy.
It only takes one person. One customer without symptoms. One employee working because they're too afraid to admit to that scratchy throat. You might feel fine when you're not; your customers might feel fine.
Yes, fast food is allowed to have drive-through and curbside pickup. Grocery stores are open. Hardware store are open. They're open because there's no way around it. People have to eat. Stuff in houses break and need immediate repair.
No one needs a haircut badly enough to risk someone else's life. No one needs a tattoo (and trust me, I want one. Badly.) No one needs Starbucks and I am flummoxed as to why they're considered essential enough to be open...and I love going to Starbucks.
You might be willing to risk your own health; your customer might be willing to risk their own health. But you both carry that risk with you when you leave that place of business, and because of that...your right to do business ends because it infringes on the rights of others to pursuit health.
It's not perfect. But it is what it is, and if you embrace your rights as an American, then you have to embrace those inconvenient moments when you have to let loose your grip on anything other than the fundamental cornerstones of this Republic.
(It's not a democracy, you know. Recite the Pledge of Allegiance for a light bulb moment.)
It sucks. Some businesses won't survive, and that sucks even more. But if you open too soon and spread this virus, we're going to lose any advantage we've gained, and we start this sucky little merry go round all over. Only it will probably be worse.
(See: Spanish Flu, when people started going out and clustering at the first signs it had abated. It got worse. Much worse.)
You have a right to operate a legal business...just not right now.