Small — and I mean very small — protests have been popping up in different cities around the United States to call for the reopening of America. These protesters want businesses to reopen despite the uncontrolled and in some places worsening spread of COVID-19.
It's important to note that most of these protesters aren't fighting for their own right to return to work. Rather, they are screaming to put service workers back in stores (and therefore, in harm's way) so they can do things like get their hair done and go to the gym. Most recently, protesters — a small group of them — gathered outside of the courthouse in Clearwater, FL to call for the reopening of gyms in the state.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis finally issued a stay-at-home order on April 1, so gyms have been closed for roughly five weeks. Although the stay-at-home mandate was originally supposed to end on April 30, Florida has been experiencing a continued rise in COVID-19 cases, so DeSantis signed another executive order, according to Newsweek.
Some businesses were allowed to reopen in a limited sense on May 4, but gyms were not included in that list. Hence, the protesters.
The protest consisted of a mere few dozen people, but it has gained national attention because the protesters did something so perfectly silly that they managed to prove that the entire point of their protest is moot.
They did push-ups and squats. On the sidewalk. Outside of the courthouse. Proving, once and for all, that you can workout from anywhere and don't actually need a gym. It's just... *chef's kiss*
Once the people of Twitter happened upon this clip, they laughed and laughed, and then they made it go viral. Laura Bassett, a political columnist for GQ, garnered over 43,000 likes and 5,000 retweets for her simple question.
Look, there are many gym owners out there who are small business owners and who are no doubt struggling right now. But this protest so quickly turned into the best argument for why gyms are not essential businesses and don't need to open to in-person patrons right now.
So many gyms are offering online classes. You can workout in your home, in your backyard, anywhere! You can literally do squats on the sidewalk in front of a courthouse, if you want. The people protesting to reopen the gyms handily proved this for us.
Journalist Dave Itzkoff tweeted that this was like, "Protesting the closure of my barbershop by standing out in the street and cutting my hair." Sure, gyms and barbershops are good businesses to support. Sure, they provide lovely services.
But right now, when the threat of a deadly virus hangs over everything, they are simply not essential. States are slowly allowing some businesses to provide limited services, and there is potentially a responsible way to do this.
But we cannot reopen this country completely right now. We have no widespread access to testing for COVID-19. Antibody tests are unreliable, and it's unclear whether antibodies translate to immunity and, if so, for how long. And we don't have a uniformly effective treatment, vaccine, or even a comprehensive understanding of this virus.
Let's not stoop to the level of many of our representatives and begin to value the health of the economy over the health of actual humans. Let's keep each other safe. And let's keep doing our squats at home for now.