“Please support local business.” That is one of the first things I read when I looked at the City of Olean website.

I do support local business when I can. I never buy online unless what I am looking for is unavailable locally — until now. I’ll explain.

New York state requires everyone to wear a mask when out in public unless you are able to social distance. That requirement does not exempt people of a certain age, political affiliation, race or religion, with the exception of a medical condition that exempts someone from wearing one.

Businesses in New York can refuse service to anyone not wearing a mask. They don’t even java to let you in the door without one. That being the case, why should I support a business that allows people to walk around inside without a mask?

I am 77. If I get COVID-19 I would be considered compromised even without pre-existing conditions. Why should I support businesses that are, literally, putting my life in danger and are unwilling to support me?

There are some businesses in Olean and Allegany that will not let you enter without a face mask, but not many. You can shop at Ried’s and know they are doing all they can to protect you from COVID-19, as well as Park and Shop and others, too. You cannot shop in those stores without a mask.

Other large grocery and retail sites in our area, apparently, do not care as much about our wellbeing. In fact, there is a very large retailer in Allegany that stations two employees outside by the entrance. I really don’t know why they are there because people walk right by them without masks and nothing is said to them. From what I have observed, most of their time is spent talking to each other.

I will continue to support local businesses — but only the ones that enforce the requirement that a mask be worn at all times while doing business in their establishments.

As far as First Amendment rights go, you can speak with or without a mask on and say just about anything you have to say.

James R. Orsini, Cuba

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