WCCBI issues open letter regarding state mandates

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The Warren County Chamber of Business and Industry posted an open letter on its social media pages Tuesday.

(Photo: A copy of the Open Letter to Warren County from the WCCBI Facebook page.)

The letter, signed by President/CEO Jim Decker, asks that community members follow state guidelines, specifically the masking mandate, when patronizing local businesses. Decker emphasized that the requirements are set by the state, not each individual business.

“I am reaching out to the citizens of Warren County asking for your consideration, on behalf of the privately-owned businesses throughout the county,” the letter reads. “To set aside your personal feelings and political views on these matters and put a facemask on before entering any local business establishment.”

Masking has become the hot button issue, not just within the state, but nationally as well, as new viral videos emerge almost daily with confrontations between patrons and store employees over mask policies.

The heart of the open letter is a plea to avoid that kind of confrontation within the county.

“NONE of these businesses had a say in any of these mandates or requirements,” the letter reads. “NONE of these businesses are able to ignore these requirements and mandates without fear of governmental intervention and further penalty in the form of license revocation or fines.

“NONE of these businesses should have to worry about personal confrontation or loss of a customer by asking for your cooperation in helping them meet the requirements and mandates forced on them,” it continues. “There are venues and avenues available to question and challenge the decisions being made by our state and federal governments. The threshold of any Warren County business is not one of them!”

Decker concludes the letter by encouraging residents to follow the mandates, not for themselves, but for the sake of local business.

“Accepting this minimal inconvenience could well save a local business.”

The full text of the letter is included below:

“An open letter to the Warren County community regarding complying with CDC, PA Department of Health and Governor Wolf’s directives and orders, specifically the use of facemasks.

“I have no interest in debating the legalities or medical necessities of any of the orders or directives that have been passed down by the CDC, PA Department of Health or Governor Wolf. I also do not intend to debate whether Warren County is being unjustly penalized by the blanket approach to guidelines taken by these entities.

“Rather, I am reaching out to the citizens of Warren County asking for your consideration, on behalf of the privately-owned businesses throughout the county, to set aside your personal feelings and political views on these matters and put a facemask on before entering any local business establishment.

“Our local businesses have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 situation. They struggle daily with the accumulated debt caused by mandated closures, reduced operations mandates and increased expenses created by the mandates of employee and customer protection and safety imposed upon them. NONE of these businesses had a say in any of these mandates or requirements. NONE of these businesses are able to ignore these requirements and mandates without fear of governmental intervention and further penalty in the form of license revocation or fines.

“NONE of these businesses should have to worry about personal confrontation or loss of a customer by asking for your cooperation in helping them meet the requirements and mandates forced upon them.

“There are venues and avenues available to question and challenge the decisions begin made by our state and federal governments. The threshold of any Warren County businesses is no one of them!

“Please consider the challenges our local business owners are facing in meeting the ongoing, unending costs of operating that business with only a fraction of their normal income available to them and please help them comply with the rules they have no option but to adhere to by simply wearing a facemask! Accepting this minimal inconvenience could well save a local business. Thank you.

Jim Decker, President/CEO”