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With freedom comes great responsibility

Emerging, transitioning and evolving are all words used to describe how we might be feeling these days, or as I like to say, “as we come out of our COVID cocoons.”

I want to thank San Juan Basin Public Health for its hard work and dedication over this past year, and Durango City Council for its leadership and for removing the city mask ordinance. This allows each individual business to decide what will be required in their private facility based on their own comfort levels, medical needs and business model. As a reminder, it is recommended that if you are not vaccinated, you should continue wearing a mask to protect yourself and others.

The Durango Chamber of Commerce, Business Improvement District, Economic Development Alliance, Visit Durango, Local Restaurant Association Chapter and the Small Business Development Center all supported this decision. In our joint letter of support, we stated our belief that each business should have the right to make this decision considering the guidelines handed down at the federal, state and local level. We also expressed our commitment to working with SJBPH, the city and businesses in La Plata County to help them with messaging and provide notices and signage they can display to communicate whether they require face masks. It’s important for businesses to communicate their decision and that they retain the right to refuse entry or service to anyone who does not comply with their requirement. We also want to covey to the community that even if they are vaccinated, they should continue taking a mask with them because a business may require it. We also ask all our residents to please respect those business owners and their decision, regardless of their position.

With the availability of vaccines, we can continue to improve our fight against COVID-19. The greatest opportunity we all have is medical freedom. The majority is choosing to get vaccinated so we can all resume normal life – and we’ve already seen the results with the new CDC and other health entities’ recommendations. In the spirit of partnership, Ska Brewing and SJBPH just announced that you can get a (vaccine) shot and a beer. So please, be the one to make a difference and schedule your vaccination shot today.

The bottom line is: With freedom comes great responsibility. And we ask that everyone in our community show respect and be kind. You may not know what someone else is going through or experiencing, so don’t rush to judgment if their position is not the same as yours.

It’s more important now than ever that we all continue to show respect for one another and individual decisions, especially if they are different than our own beliefs. Now is the time to have a little patience and tolerance. Buy someone’s coffee or lunch who you don’t even know. Small acts of kindness can make a big difference in someone’s life.

We’ve made it this far, and we will continue to emerge; so please do your part.

Jack Llewellyn is executive director of the Durango Chamber of Commerce. Contact him at jack@durangobusiness.org.