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Putting on a mask isn’t too much to ask

Going to a grocery store in Iron Mountain on Sunday revealed something worrisome.

Michigan a week ago began requiring that people wear face masks in public places where maintaining distance likely would be difficult. Yet it quickly became apparent Sunday a fair number of people aren’t complying with that modest request.

Some had masks but pulled down under the chin or nose, which pretty much defeats the purpose. Others simply didn’t bother.

A store owner in downstate Michigan noted while most of his customers donned a mask, several balked, saying they didn’t want their “constitutional rights taken away.” Likely for most, however, it just was too “inconvenient” to come up with a facial cover.

And stores have few options to persuade patrons to follow the rules. No fines are involved. Businesses can refuse service to people not adhering to the face mask requirement but that puts the burden on store management to confront a customer, at a time when sales already might be reduced — and when some seem spoiling for a fight if challenged.

Customers who think they are making some kind of stand for liberty or against government overreach in refusing to wear a mask should keep this in mind: It’s not about you. This step is to better protect those working at the store or establishment you’re looking to enter.

Businesses deemed essential have to keep operating through this time of coronavirus, even though being in the store, around the public, risks exposure to COVID-19.

It’s one thing to roll the dice yourself on contracting the coronavirus, perhaps confident you’ll be among those who show little effects or can fight it off.

It’s another to potentially carry that to someone else, especially those simply doing their job to provide what you need. Given that COVID-19 can take awhile to incubate before symptoms appear — or that some may never show symptoms — can you be certain without testing you’d know if you were carrying the virus?

What you do at home, or in your own vehicle, is your choice. But when entering someone else’s space, you should be willing to abide by the rules.

Can’t find a mask? The state’s definition of a facial covering includes bandannas, handkerchiefs or scarves, according to the executive order. Anything that covers nose and mouth will suffice.

All medical-grade face coverings also should be reserved for health care professionals, state officials advised.

Lots of do-it-yourself instructions are available online for creating a makeshift mask from a T-shirt or bandanna. At the store Sunday, one man sporting a bandanna said he hadn’t worn one like that since playing a cowboy bandit as a kid. But he still made the effort.

So show some respect for those in stores who are trying to keep shelves stocked and supplies on hand when needed during the pandemic shutdown — put on that mask and leave the civil disobedience for another day, when you’re the only one potentially affected.

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