Headshot of Hannah Campbell | For The Post

Campbell's Corner

August 23, 2021

Mask mandates in local businesses are unjustifiable

By Hannah Campbell | Asst. Opinion Editor

J ust when we thought the world was moving toward normalcy, it throws another curveball into our plans. We thought we had escaped the chaos that was the pandemic, only for it to rear its ugly head again.

Ohio University announced that it will require all students and staff to wear masks inside all buildings on campus, no matter if they are vaccinated or not. This announcement follows a recent recommendation by the CDC for vaccinated individuals to wear masks indoors in high transmission areas.

For sophomores like me who missed out on a normal freshman year experience, this announcement was extremely disappointing. I thought I might be able to have a semi-normal school year when Ohio University originally told us that we wouldn’t have to wear masks in public anymore. I know there are much more concerning issues in the world than whether or not I can go out with my friends on the weekends, but it can be hard to keep that in mind when COVID-19 has taken so much already.

As of now, most Athens bars and restaurants are not requiring masks upon entry and guests staying seated their entire stay. The Ohio government has also not put a state mask mandate back into place. However, with the announcement of Ohio University and other Athens schools requiring masks, a state mandate might not be that far away.

It’s also hard to see these restrictions come back when it feels like so many students are vaccinated. I do believe that it should be a choice as to whether or not students become vaccinated, but if it makes the difference between a normal school year or one that’s possibly cut short again, then I don’t see why more can’t get the vaccine.

Isaiah Manuel, a sophomore studying graphic design, is one of many students like myself that were hopeful that this year would be similar to those before COVID-19. After getting vaccinated, Manuel has now experienced nightlife in Athens during the summer and hopes that the mask and social distance restrictions don’t come back into place.

“Since the mask mandate was lifted, going out has been insane compared to last semester,” Manuel said. “There’s a lot more feeling of freedom. After experiencing it, I don’t think I would even go back out if they changed the mask mandate.”

Unlike Manuel, Jaiden Tabor, a junior studying journalism, was on campus prior to COVID-19. It was a hard transition to the restrictions put in place, but she hopes that they don’t return now that things are similar to how they were before the pandemic.

“I don’t really think wearing masks to walk in and then being allowed to take them off when you're sitting is an effective strategy,” Tabor said. “I feel like it should be all or nothing. The bars in Athens already struggled to stay open during the initial lockdown so making everything regress again would do further damage.”

If a state mandate is put back into place for local bars and restaurants, then we should follow it, but that doesn’t mean they are necessarily fair to those of us who got vaccinated. The solution is not putting more restrictions that are bound to be broken, but rather encouraging those who aren’t to get vaccinated.

Students are going to rebel, whether it be close together in a bar, crowded at a house party, or even squished in a small dorm room. We should allow vaccinated students to finally go out without restrictions. However, if there is another mandate, we shouldn’t let it stop us from supporting these local businesses. At that point we still need to do our part for the community, even if it’s unfair.

Hannah Campbell is a sophomore studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnist do not reflect those of The Post. Do you agree? Tell Hannah by tweeting her at @hannahcmpbell.

AUTHOR: Hannah Campbell
EDITOR: Mikayla Rochelle
COPY EDITOR: Anastasia Carter
PHOTO: Kelsey Boeing