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BRAD ROBICHAUX — Open for business, but still not as usual

I haven’t been wearing a mask when I go to the grocery store, and I really should be.

I appreciate that folks want businesses and public services to reopen, especially so folks can go back to work and support their families.

The coronavirus is NOT gone, though, and probably won’t be for a little while yet.

That means we all need to keep vigilant and safe, even though businesses are opening back up again.

On an official level, the state government of Texas set the rules for the reopening last week in an executive order from Governor Greg Abbott. On Friday, retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters and malls reopened, but must limit the people in their locations to just a quarter of their maximum occupancy. Public places people routinely touch or interact with, like play equipment in malls or interactive exhibits at museums, are to remain closed.

The Port Neches Wheelhouse joined other restaurants in opening last Friday but are keeping their interior serving area limited to just 25 customers at a time, though the expanded outdoor dining areas will allow for more.

There will be sanitization stations for patrons, tables will be spaced six feet apart and disinfected after each use. Party size is limited to six people.

This is what it ultimately takes to reopen for business and still make sure as best as possible that patrons and employees will be kept healthy.

There are things that we can do as customers, too. Keep staying six feet away from others. Keep washing your hands before going somewhere and when coming back. Where those masks if you can get them. Wear something else if you can’t. If you have any of the possible symptoms, like a cough, shortness of breath, chills and shaking, headache, sore throat, fever, or simply had contact with someone who was confirmed to have COVID-19, please stay home and away from others.

Are you heading to the store to buy something now that stores are open? Make sure to wash your hands after handling any payment.

Are you heading to a restaurant? Keep your dining party to six people or fewer.

Are you heading to the movies? Buy your ticket remotely and keep two seats and one row between you and others.

Please do not be lulled into thinking the danger from COVID-19 has gone away just because businesses are reopening.

By Monday afternoon, six more new cases were reported in Jefferson County and one more death, according to Texas Health and Human Services data. The totals on Monday for Jefferson County were 325 cases reported and 23 deaths.

We all want things to go back to normal. We need to realize, for our own health and the health of those we love, that normal hasn’t returned quite yet.

We may be able to go back to restaurants, and I don’t have to show papers at the Texas-Louisiana border anymore, but we can’t let our guard down.

I’ve got some masks now and I’ve got some sanitizer. I’m going to be using them.

Brad Robichaux is a reporter for The Port Arthur News. He can be reached at brad.robichaux@panews.com