Don’t #ReopenCapeCod – Yet


Last weekend, a Cape-based conservative political group staged a demonstration in Bourne to urge Governor Charlie Baker to begin lifting business closures and other restrictions designed to slow the spread of COVID-19. Organizers argue that the Cape’s economy, and local families, can’t withstand the continued stress of these preventative measures. Protesters held signs promoting the hashtag #ReopenCapeCod. Most weren’t wearing masks or keeping six feet apart.

We, too, look forward to the time when the state can take the first careful steps toward reopening our economy. We hope it happens in time to salvage at least part of the upcoming visitor season, which would provide a financial lifeline to local businesses. But while the economic shutdown is a bitter pill, it’s necessary medicine right now.

The number of COVID-19 cases on the Cape continues to rise, and it may continue to do so for several more weeks. Only when there’s a sustained decline in those numbers should public health officials consider a careful phased-in reopening of non-essential businesses, including restaurants and lodging establishments. And even then, businesses will need to adapt to the new need for social distancing. We’re confident that, when the economy does reopen, it will do so with a vengeance. Local chamber of commerce officials are hoping that the Cape's proximity to large East Coast population centers will make it a desirable driving destination into the fall.

We applaud Governor Charlie Baker for asserting that public health concerns, not economic or political ones, will drive his decision about when to lift the restrictions. And we’re proud that, even as it endures the surge of COVID-19 cases that public health officials correctly predicted, our state is asserting its constitutional right to make such decisions. In promoting a premature reopening of the economy, the Trump administration is risking a resurgence of the virus that will claim new lives, short-circuit an economic recovery, and render meaningless the sacrifices made by health care workers, first responders, and the rest of society.

So, yes. #ReopenCapeCod. Just not yet.