Shopping in the Age of COVID-19

coronavirus

Remember when shopping for groceries was a chore that we did because we had to eat?  A recent posting on the Calvert County Health Department website gives us a sense for what lies ahead for many of us who live in jurisdictions that are still using the heavy hand of government to reduce what little remains of our civic rights during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

For those of you that aren't aware, Calvert County is located in Maryland to the southeast of Washington DC as shown on this map:

The county has a population of 89,000 and, thus far, has 103 confirmed cases of COVID-19.  

Despite the relatively low number of infections, the Calvert County Government through the Calvert Health Department has decided to impose/recommend/suggest even more restrictive measures on its residents.  Here are the opening paragraphs of a press release entitled "Shopping in the Age of COVID":

"We are now settling into a new normal. A normal that has greatly and uncomfortably limited our social contact. It’s gotten to the point that kids actually want to go to school, and adults want to sit in cubicles. For most, there’s not much difference between Saturday and Wednesday. And going to the grocery store has shifted from an occasional trip to get necessities to a frequent excuse for getting out of the house.

As a result of chronic overcrowding in grocery and convenience stores, as well as some other retailers, the Health Department has acted on Governor Hogan’s directive to institute new policies to decrease virus transmission. It is strongly recommended that both customers and employees wear basic face masks. People will not be denied food if they refuse to wear a mask, but we ask that everyone place the needs of medically vulnerable neighbors above their personal preferences." (my bold)

So, how does the county plan to prevent people from abusing their ability to shop whenever they feel like it?  Here's the answer:

"For your health, the health of your family members, and the safety of all those in our community, the health department asks that you voluntarily limit trips for groceries to once every 5 days on the following schedule:

Last name starting with A-C shop on dates ending with 0 and 5

Last name starting with D-G shop on dates ending with 1 and 6

Last name starting with H-L shop on dates ending with 2 and 7

Last name starting with M-R shop on dates ending with 3 and 8

Last name starting with S-Z shop on dates ending with 4 and 9"

The decree is not requirement under law but is a voluntary recommendation.  So now, not only can they tell us what to buy (essential items only – no paint, no grass seed etcetera ad infinitum) but they can tell us what day we are allowed to shop.

This begs the question; how long before other governments impose similar non-voluntary restrictions on the last "fun event" that we are allowed under medical martial law? My sense is that at some point we will require government issued passes that will allow us to leave our homes on certain days of the week, buy a rationed amount of gasoline on certain days and shop on certain days. With the advent of cellphone and Bluetooth bracelet tracking technology, it is just a matter of time before these restrictions become non-voluntary which begs the question; when does society reach a tipping point and rebel against government decrees? We are already seeing unrest in Michigan and Ohio. How long will it be before that unrest spreads as people get increasingly angry about what little is left of their lives?

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