Mindless and Mortifying Covid Theater

by Don Boudreaux on December 12, 2021

in Country Problems, Current Affairs, Risk and Safety, Seen and Unseen

I was prompted to write the note below – which I’ll send to managers of theaters, museums, concert halls, and other public venues – after attending an event at Strathmore, which requires proof of vaccination and the wearing of masks. To open the event, Strathmore’s (unmasked!) director, smiling broadly on stage, declared that “It’s wonderful to be here among the vaccinated!” I wanted to retch, for to my ears it’s as if he’d said “It’s wonderful to be here among the clean and away from the filthy untouchables.”

………

December 12, 2021

Manager of [Name of venue]

Sir or Madam:

To enter your premises, each of your patrons is required by you both to show proof of vaccination against Covid-19 and at all times to wear a mask.

What’s the point of these requirements?

Vaccination is effective at preventing the vaccinated from suffering serious consequences from Covid. (And children naturally are at virtually no risk from Covid.) Therefore, those of your patrons who choose not to be vaccinated personally bear the costs of their choice without imposing any costs on those of your patrons who are vaccinated. So your requirement of vaccination is pointless.

This conclusion would stand even if we were sure that vaccination appreciably lowers, or even eliminates, the likelihood of vaccinated persons spreading the SARS-CoV-2 virus to other persons. But in fact we have no such assurance. Many prominent public-health researchers read the evidence as showing that being vaccinated against Covid does not prevent the vaccinated at least not for any significant length of time – from becoming infected with SARS-CoV-2 and spreading this virus to others. Even CDC Director Rochelle Walensky admits about the vaccines, after the emergence of the Delta variant, that “what they can’t do anymore is prevent transmission.”

Requiring proof of vaccination would thus be pointless even if it were the case that recovery from Covid provided no natural immunity. But in fact the evidence is powerful that recovery from Covid provides significant natural immunity. Because nearly 50 million Americans have tested positive for Covid and recovered – and even apart from the considerations mentioned above – requiring all patrons to show proof of vaccination is, to put it mildly, excessive.

Similar questions apply to masks. Because vaccination is effective at protecting the vaccinated, why do you require each of your patrons to wear a mask? Again, those of your patrons who choose not to wear a mask – just like your patrons who choose not to be vaccinated – impose costs only on themselves and not on those of your patrons who choose differently.

I urge you, in the name of liberal civilization and the open society, to stop mindlessly giving credence to pronouncements from the likes of Anthony Fauci and other government officials who have a personal stake in stoking Covid hysteria for as long as they can. Please let your patrons enjoy what you have to offer without being accosted by senseless Covid restrictions or required to participate in dystopian hygiene theater.

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
and
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030

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