Opinion: Places are Beginning to Reopen in NorCal. Can We Please Be Smart About This?

Tahoe’s crowded Sand Harbor Beach. Photo by Steven Feather

This week saw a litany of reopenings throughout Northern California as Governor Gavin Newsom approved the Covid-19 reopening plan to enter Phase 2 for 18 counties in the state. In the days following the approval, a long list of businesses, restaurants and outdoor destinations announced their plans and dates for reopening. It’s been an exciting week for everyone cooped up in their houses for months on end and a sign of some sort of return to normalcy.

But as we begin to reemerge into the sunlight with our long hair and unkempt bangs, scruffy beards and tattered nails, chubby cheeks and bigger bellies, I just ask one thing from you – Can we please be smart about this?

As science has told us, we’re going to probably see another spike in Coronavirus cases. That’s just the nature of the beast. I fully support these reopenings and think they are important for us to dip our toes into that well and see how bad the spike will get. That’s the only way to test this thing. I think it’s important for businesses to reopen, for the economy to attempt to get back on track and for people to salvage what’s left of their mental health by getting outside.

But can we please be smart about this? Let’s be good citizens and neighbors by respecting social distance guidelines. Let’s not group together in large crowds and herd into society like a pack of wild beasts. Let’s not leave our trash at outdoor destinations, only to let other people come in contact with your germs and bacteria. Let’s not pack into crowded boats and RV’s and campsites with people we haven’t seen in months. Let’s ignore our impulse to go crazy about the possibility of ending this quarantine.

Last weekend, the Cottonwood Rodeo defied the state’s orders and conducted their event, attracting thousands of attendees in a somewhat small space. Whether you agreed with the rodeo’s decision to go on or not (I did not), it could have harmed the other businesses in the area who are waiting patiently to reopen. The rodeo was a middle finger to the state’s health workers, and only after denouncement and pleas from local officials did the state approve Shasta County’s Phase 2 reopening plan. The state could have made an example out of the rodeo, a move that would have financially damaged many other people in the community.

I really do feel like a kid right now, barely able to contain my excitement to go camping, eat at my favorite restaurants and see my friends (and I really need a haircut). But let’s not ruin months of quarantine by being irresponsible citizens and neighbors. Let’s go out their and act like adults.

If you’re planning on going out into Northern California’s great outdoors soon, I’ll probably see you out there. Heck, I may never come home after being stuck inside for this long. And when I see you, I’ll happily say hello from 6-feet away. I hope you’ll do the same.

Zach O'Brien

Zach O'Brien is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief at Active NorCal

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