Virus Outbreak Economy (copy)

In this June 30 photo, a woman shops for clothing in a Gap store during the coronavirus pandemic, in New York.

A year ago, many people were stuck at home wondering what the future would bring.

There were many questions (in no particular order): When will this pandemic end? Will things ever return to the way they were? How long will we have to wear masks?

On March 22, we got at least one answer to those queries: The mask mandate in places like St. Joseph and Maryville will no longer have to be enforced by businesses that don’t want to abide.

I’m of two minds about this:

1) This is disappointing to every local business who’s had to fight tooth and nail with customers who want to yell about their rights while ignoring that business owners don’t have to welcome them in if they don’t abide by their rules. No doubt, there will be some that think this applies to all businesses and cause more harassment.

2) The cynical side of me has been to enough big box stores, gas stations, bars and fast food stops to know that there were people who didn’t wear them anyway (They can be seen in any local Facebook comment section proudly proclaiming their freedom like a less-admirable Captain America.) This is a mere formality.

This also sort of answers what kind of future lies ahead, both locally and nationally. While I was convinced a post-pandemic world might look and act different, I don’t think that’s the case. I think people want it to be exactly like before and we’re faking it until we make it. And by “faking it,” I mean pretending like people aren’t being infected with COVID-19, even if numbers are thankfully low.

Some areas of life, like movie theaters, live events and sports, likely will bear the brunt of the aftermath of COVID for awhile. But most people seem to be acting like this is the regular, pre-COVID-19 times, and a majority of St. Joseph’s City Council seemed to say “Let’s stop pretending that this matters,” even though at least one has detailed his experience with COVID and said it was not a fun deal.

I will never get why City Council took so long to enact a mask mandate and I’ll never understand why they were so quick to take it away, especially during a time when vaccinations are slowly ramping up in the area.

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: I want to return to my favorite local bars and businesses. I want to see live shows and concerts again. I don’t trust people enough to do it right now, and without a mask mandate, I trust them even less.

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Andrew Gaug can be reached at

Follow him on Twitter: @NPNOWGaug

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