From: Kathleen Peterson

Winona

The Post’s September 1 story on why Winona City Council members rescinded the city mask mandate shined a very bright light on the way people place blame. Two quotes — one from council member Steve Young and the other from Chamber of Commerce President Christie Ransom — dealt with local Winona businesses struggling to survive because customers went “across the river” into various Wisconsin towns to dine or do other business. The inference, of course, is that this was due to Wisconsin’s pandemic mask rules being less stringent than Minnesota’s. But that’s not where the blame for the fallout belongs.

What about those of us who did mask up per advice from health officials and stayed loyal to our local businesses? There was very real worry about the future of Winona’s small businesses — after all, “shop local” has been a mantra in our community for years. So, many of us got takeout food several times a week from the restaurants we loved. We shopped while masked at our local hardware store, grocery stores, gift shops, etc. When masking rules eased a bit, we had no issue with wearing our masks inside a restaurant and removing them only while eating. The same with going into our local bar. The immense gratitude from the owners and staff made those experiences memorable. 

If blame is to be directed towards the cause of the very real business hardships that occurred, a hefty share of it needs to land squarely on those who selfishly went “across the river.”