It’s been a challenging time for Haliburton County.

Last week’s incident involving a 73-yearold man assaulting an employee at Easton’s Valu-mart in Minden over a mask got things started. The man then drove recklessly to his home on Indian Point Road in Dysart et al. The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) said police shot the man. He died soon after in hospital.

As usual, the trolls took to local social media to speculate, denigrate, pontificate and make a bad situation much, much worse. It wasn’t until press time last Wednesday that the real story came out in The Highlander. By then, the social media damage had already been done.

Without people knowing the facts, there were wild rumours. One portrayed trigger-happy cops taking down a poor senior citizen all because he was exercising his constitutional right not to wear a mask. On the flipside, people had this man dressed in camouflage, brandishing two firearms, and coming out with all guns blazing.

We’ll learn the truth when the SIU report comes out. Of course, that takes patience. And, why would we let facts get in the way of a good social media frenzy so some people in our county can make themselves feel important by writing themselves into a story.

They should be ashamed.

So should the people who have apparently been harassing staff at local businesses. Baked and Battered took to social media as well this week in the hopes of getting their patrons to behave a little better.

They said they have had people criticize their decision to not fully open their restaurant during Stage 3 of provincial reopenings. Folks, restaurants are not public spaces. They are privately-owned. You have no right to demand a restaurant open just because the province says that they can. You have no idea of the nervousness of owners and staff when it comes to their personal health and safety, not to mention your own. Nor do you have any idea of the required health and safety precautions these restaurants must employ, nor the cost. If they don’t want to fully reopen, that’s their choice. Respect it.

Baked and Battered also said people have been annoyed when the restaurant has not contravened public health requirements to move tables for them. Simply put, the health unit could come in and close them down. So, get over yourself.

And, when it comes to masks, they’ve been told you must wear them. It is not the restaurants’ choice. If you don’t like it, stay home.

I had an elderly gentleman and his wife phone me last week. They wanted to know all about the mask mandate. They were skeptical of the impact wearing masks would have on curtailing the spread of the disease. I relayed the latest science but they scoffed, saying masks wouldn’t make a difference. I told them anyone can find the science to back any opinion. I said we’d have to agree to disagree and I ended the call.

Dr. Diane Duff has an interesting column in today’s Highlander outlining which demographics are most likely to refuse to wear masks. It seems middle-aged men and young people tend to buck the trend more than others but there’s many skeptics in the county.

I’m personally not crazy about having to wear a mask. It’s hot. It makes my glasses fog up. It’s pretty hard to conduct interviews. Do I wear one when I go out? You bet I do. I don’t want to get COVID-19 or unsuspectingly spread the virus to someone else.

At the end of the day, It’s not about constitutional rights, people. It’s about respecting yourself and your community. If you can’t do that, well, fine, just stay home. You can spend your time working on that Facebook vitriol.

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