‘This issue is so highly debated, even in my own house, that I don’t want to risk alienating any of my customer base with my opinions.”

Patrick O’Brien, owner of Lathrop House Café, Forest Park and Scratch Kitchen on Lake, Oak Park.

That’s what O’Brien told Wednesday Journal this week when our Melissa Elsmo asked him about how his restaurants will enforce the newly instituted proof of vaccination requirement imposed by both the county government and also by Oak Park’s public health department.

Rational response, we suppose, from a businessperson. Or from a person trying to get along in their own household.

Happily this is the opinion page of the local newspaper and sharing opinions is our stock in trade.

We’re all in favor of requiring citizens to provide proof of full vaccination — that’s three shots if you’re eligible — before they stroll into a restaurant, movie theater, fitness center, music venue. Extend it to airplanes, too. This should have been implemented months back.

The concept is simple. COVID kills people. We have a powerful tool in vaccines that does a remarkable job of preventing serious illness or death from COVID and its variants. Rational people have taken this proactive, life-affirming step. They deserve to be protected by government, by business, by churches, by restaurants, theaters, gyms and nightclubs from an irrational minority of people who have turned a worldwide pandemic into some sort of political proving ground for the deranged.

Segregating those people from the rest of us so that we can move toward some changed sense of normal life — breakfast at Louie’s, lunch at George’s, dinner at Lou Malnati’s — makes perfect sense. We have no second thoughts on this. We have no sympathy for the unvaccinated. Actually we have contempt for them and we don’t want them sitting near us coughing on our popcorn at the Lake Theatre.

If the minority will not permit themselves to be persuaded then they must be separated. They’re the ones making the choice.

Our concern, our only concern, is for the health — mental and physical — of those working in these businesses who must enforce proof of vaccination. Chris Johnson, CEO of Classic Cinemas with movie theaters in North Riverside and Oak Park, states what is clear. It is very difficult to hire people in this moment. Needing to hire more people to enforce this mandate will not be simple.

We’ll close with this hopeful quote from Johnson: “The majority of people are rule-followers, whatever the rules are. … There’s always a small percentage of people who try to get away with something, but the majority of the public is pretty good.”

Pray that he is right. 

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