It’s fascinating to watch local governments — New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New Orleans — rush to enact Covid vaccine requirements for entry to the publicly accessible spaces of private business, including, yes, movie theaters.
I’m not equipped to judge the ultimate propriety or efficacy of such mandates. Frankly, the complexities posed by breakthroughs, uncertain vaccine longevity, variants, immune status of the previously infected, pending FDA approvals, pregnancy risks, child safety and ethnic cross-currents are beyond me. Unless you’re an extraordinarily acute observer, they’re probably beyond you, too.
But I do know, based on way too much firsthand experience, that our well-intentioned cities and counties aren’t remotely capable of enforcing myriad restrictions already on the books, never mind these new ones.
As they say in Latin, circumspice — look around. People here and elsewhere quite regularly:
Blow through stop signs.
Dump e-scooters on the sidewalk.
Turn dogs loose on the no-pets beach.
Toss masks in the gutter.
Violate construction permits.
Ignore noise ordinances.
Park in bus lanes.
Camp along the streets.
Defecate in the alleys.
Break liquor bottles wherever.
Smoke or inject whatever, whenever.
Shout blood-curdling threats at passers-by.
Smash-and-grab cars in broad daylight.
Shoplift freely, until stores lock stuff up, or, like the various Walgreens of San Francisco, close altogether.
Shoot to kill. (I think particularly of 26-year-old Jayren Bradford, who was murdered Wednesday when he tried to break up a fight outside the Shoe Palace on Melrose Avenue. In this case, at least, a suspect has been arrested.)
By and large, the police have limited ability to respond. Not long ago, I watched two Los Angeles officers trying to coax a sleeping guy off the sidewalk in Santa Monica Canyon at midday. “I’m not breaking any laws, I’m just sleeping!” he screamed. When last seen, they were still coaxing. Around the same time, my neighbor called the police for help with a person who had set up camp in her driveway, up against the garage door. The responding officer said it wasn’t police business. My dental hygienist says one of her police-clients tells her the watchword is “YOYO”: You’re on Your Own.
So the vaccine mandate adds another law in a society that can’t deal with those already on the books.
This one, clearly, will be dumped in the lap of retailers, theater owners included. Enforcement? It’s their problem. But God help them if something goes wrong — if a would-be patron resists or somebody makes somebody else sick on the premises.
Truly, I don’t know how to stop Covid.
But this is a good time not to be an exhibitor. They’re on their own.
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