Governor Charlie Baker says private gatherings involving people who are not members of immediate families are the chief cause for the increase in COVID-19 cases, and then turns around and punishes small retail businesses and restaurants again. How does that make sense?

There is almost no evidence to show that COVID is spread in retail stores or restaurants, yet Baker targets them for economic destruction.

Too many communities are back in the red zone, so Baker has dialed back Massachusetts to Phase 3, Step 1 of his draconian lockdown plan. What the hell does all of that mean? It means higher unemployment, alcoholism, suicide, depression, and small business failure statistics for Massachusetts.

How does Baker tell struggling retail businesses to limit customers to 40 percent of capacity during a Christmas shopping season that has already been sabotaged by the fearmongers on Beacon and Capitol Hills? For many small brick-and-mortar mom-and-pops, that means one or two customers at a time, while the box stores and online retailers rake in the cash.

There has been no issue with COVID being spread in restaurants, at least none that has been reported out by the government to this point. Yet Baker says restaurants must reduce table occupancy size, limit customer visits to 90 minutes, and require customers to wear masks even at their tables. You can remove the mask to take a bite of your food, and then you must immediately replace the thing while you chew. What happens if it takes you 91 minutes to finish eating?

Baker has also ordered food courts in malls closed until further notice.

The most bizarre thing about the new orders Baker issued on Tuesday is that they don't take effect until Sunday. If life and limb are at risk, why wait five days?

Folks, COVID is real, and it is no picnic. Stay away from crowds when possible and do the things you are supposed to do to protect yourself. Above all else, use common sense in dealing with all of this. I wish someone at the government level would.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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