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CONTRIBUTORS

OP-ED: Masks mean business in York County

Kevin J. Schreiber
York County Economic Alliance
York County Economic Alliance President and Chief Executive Officer Kevin Schreiber and Downtown Inc CEO Silas Chamberlin, right, talk with the media during a press conference at PeoplesBank Park announcing an alliance between the two organizations Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018. Bill Kalina photo

The greatest asset of any business is its people — customers and employees. Protecting both by wearing a mask while out in public is an easy way that we can support York County’s business community through the COVID-19 pandemic.

York County’s businesses are reopening, but, like everywhere, we have not yet fully recovered from the business closures necessary to flatten the initial curve of COVID-19 cases. If we want consumers and clients to return to our businesses, we need them to feel safe. Our business owners are working diligently to implement new safety protocols that limit the likelihood of transmission. Mask wearing is an important piece of this puzzle.

When a customer walks into a business and sees workers or other customers with masks, that’s a signal to them that they are safe. Masklessness has led some customers to take their business elsewhere, forgoing purchases and services altogether. By wearing a mask inside a business, you are supporting that business because you are helping to keep customers and employees safe.

When you refuse to wear a mask, you’re not punishing the medical experts who have advocated for masks or the political officials who have encouraged mask wearing; you are punishing fellow customers, employees and their families, all worried about catching COVID-19.

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T.K's Nuts and Candy owner Tobi Bingaman wears a mask while waiting on a customer at the Central Market shop Thursday, July 9, 2020. Bill Kalina photo

Further, you are placing a burden on business owners and managers who have sought to make customers feel safe, keep their workers protected and abide by guidelines from health officials, government entities and corporate policies.

Our businesses have struggled during this pandemic. They have lost revenue from closures and reduced consumer spending and were forced to modify operations. As we are seeing in other states, resurgence scenarios are real, leading to a very uncertain future. Others have incurred additional expenses from installing physical barriers, thorough and consistent cleaning, hand sanitizer and other personal protective equipment (PPE), or adding extra staff. If we take on the simple task of wearing a mask, that’s one less burden on our businesses during this already difficult time.

Masks mean business. If we want businesses to succeed, they need remain operable — and that means they cannot afford to have an outbreak of COVID-19 preventing them from having healthy staff members to function. For the same reason you want your surgeon to wear a mask in the operating room, we need to wear masks to keep others free or our own germs.

The York County Economic Alliance has worked with its partners to provide support to businesses throughout this crisis. In the earliest days, we launched www.PreparedYork.com, a resource site, which remains a clearinghouse for anyone economically impacted by COVID-19.

We have assisted businesses, nonprofit organizations and the community with information through this pandemic. We have fostered local connections to manufacture PPE. We have created marketing campaigns in both Spanish and English to equip York County with safety measures. And we have garnered modest resources to financially support businesses who did not receive PPP loans or other assistance, with a focus on supporting those owned by women and persons of color. We have been there through red, yellow, and into green, advocating for fact-based decisions and trust in the CDC and Department of Health to wrap our collective arms around this crisis and expedite our path to the new normal. 

We can do this, York. We need people to wear masks when in public if we want to have the best chance of staving off a COVID-19 resurgence here in Central PA. We have all made sacrifices throughout this crisis. Lives have been lost. This is a small sacrifice that we can all make to benefit ourselves and others.

Our business and nonprofit community is vital to our economic success here in YoCo. We will reach a day when we emerge strongly from the COVID-19 crisis. Let us all lead by example. Put our masks where our mouths (and noses) are and show the businesses of York County how much we want them to succeed with the simple considerate act of wearing a mask.

— Kevin Schreiber is the president and CEO of the York County Economic Alliance.