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Gov. Hogan’s actions speak louder than his words | READER COMMENTARY

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announces a further relaxation of restrictions that were put into place to limit the spread of the coronavirus. He spoke at the State House in Annapolis on June 10, 2020.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announces a further relaxation of restrictions that were put into place to limit the spread of the coronavirus. He spoke at the State House in Annapolis on June 10, 2020. (Pamela Wood/Baltimore Sun)

Reading Tuesday’s article “Maryland Gov. Hogan urges crackdown on bars and restaurants as coronavirus cases surge among young people” (July 14), I had to roll my eyes reading Larry Hogan’s tut-tutting about those irresponsible youths and lamely threatening to close bars and indoor dining again. Why fritter away precious time making tackily paternal admonitions? Indoor dining and bars should never have been re-opened so soon in the first place, and given recent patterns of COVID-19 spread, the governor is just propping the door open for a second wave unless he reverses course on this.

As a still laid-off Baltimore hospitality worker who has been very engaged in supporting my fellow industry members through these uncertain times, I know that this crisis has dealt a shattering structural blow to my sector, a blow that the half-measures and hot air favored by the state and federal governments will do little to soften. Even operating at 50% capacity, hours and especially tip pools are thin, so a return to work is financially risky in addition to physically dangerous. In order to make up for lost cash once booted off unemployment insurance, many workers in my industry will seek to pick up more hours at more locations, putting them in even more close contact with unmasked, chattering, food-munching guests respiring the virus into closed spaces.

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In the interest of public health, my industry should honestly remain under heavy restriction, with financial relief tailored to support workers and small business owners hit hardest by this crisis so that we are not forced to walk straight into danger for pocket change. But Governor Hogan appears to prioritize punishing alleged unemployment insurance violators over actually protecting the finances and lives of struggling Marylanders. I hope I will be proven wrong, but lacking boldness of political leadership, it seems all but certain to me that we will back ourselves into another round of this awful disease — and for what?

It was interesting to juxtapose this against The Sun’s coverage of the governor’s braggadocio around his book release and chatter about a presidential run. After such a charmed political run so far, as the sensibly suburban Republican golden boy winning two consecutive terms in a very blue state, one wonders how a Florida or Texas style relapse could tarnish this ever more carefully manicured image and hamper his higher political hopes.

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Johann Maximilian Amberger, Towson

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