By Brooke Green / Staff Writer

As Hutchinson passes the first anniversary of the start to this dreadful pandemic (yes, it really has been a whole year since this disaster came about), the restrictions and curfews are finally beginning to cease.

While some states, such as Texas, are dropping statewide mask mandates, others are hesitant in fear of re-starting the pandemic. The logic is baby steps, slowly reintroducing the seemingly ancient aspects of what we saw as normal.

Remember when people didn’t have to wear masks to go get groceries? Or when temperatures didn’t have to be taken before you could start your work shift or attend a high school basketball game? Back when a fever just meant you were sick and not pandemic ridden and sentenced to isolation. Perhaps it is all starting to come to an end.

“The nation’s top infectious disease doctor offered a timeline for ending the COVID-19 pandemic this week, saying that if the coming vaccination campaign goes well, we could approach herd immunity by summer’s end and “normality that is close to where we were before” by the end of 2021,” said The Harvard Gazette. Anthony Fauci offers a timeline over the current pandemic situation with high hopes that with proper vaccinations and participation in the safety regulations for COVID-19, that this will all be over by the end of the year.

The Board of Reno County Commissioners will be looking later this month at whether or not the mask mandate is still necessary. There was an initial discussion about the topic on March 9, and this will be revisited on March 30, as this allows for more people to get vaccinated.

“I think some of the policies probably were a little overreactive. At what point do we acknowledge that and start to kind of move to reopening, to a point where we look at the evidence and say this is working and this is not,” said County Commissioner Daniel Friesen, according to Hutch Post.

The most recent development is the reduction of the bar and restaurant curfews and social distancing requirements. Places such as Midnight Rodeo, a Wichita club, have taken down their previous curfew of 11 p.m. and are now open until 2 a.m.

The ‘caught in the act’ challenge has encouraged Hutchinson-area customers to go out and wear masks properly, the Airport Steakhouse is one of the locations that engages in the challenge where customers are given a sticker and a chance to win a $100 gift card for wearing their mask properly. Restaurants in Hutchinson are able to seat more and up their occupancy once again.

“Most businesses are really just trying to get back to normal. Allowing more people in, not social distancing, and increasing the help back to previous numbers are the main tasks we are trying to accomplish right now. We are bringing in more customers and adapting to such. Finding employees willing to work has been the hardest challenge so far,” said Carmen Pinegar, the manager at the Airport Steakhouse.

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