With the United States leading the world in COVID-19 infections, cities, counties, and states all over the country have taken important steps in an attempt to stop the spread of this potentially deadly infection.
Many jurisdictions have passed necessary and reasonable emergency directives requiring such things as social distancing and mask wearing.
Key West, FL, recently passed a COVID-19 prevention directive
A few days ago, the City of Key West, Florida, did the same. City leaders passed several directives aimed at stemming the spread of this virus. Their most recent directive, 2020-13, “Use of Facial Coverings and Required and Required Health Screenings for All Businesses,” became effective June 1, 2020.
This is essentially what the directive states:
- No groups of 10 or more people.
- Social distance 6 feet apart.
- Everyone must wear facial coverings (masks) inside a business, with certain exceptions, such as small children.
- Certain businesses, such as restaurants and hotels, must screen their employees and customers with temperature and other health checks.
All well and good.
The directive also states that violation of the order is subject to imprisonment of up to 60 days and/or a fine of up to $500.
The City designed a poster to inform customers of the new rules
The City also decided to go one step further, and that was to create a colorful poster reminding businesses as well as the public of the new directive. The poster was then sent out to all businesses within the City, and, as stated in the City’s Facebook group:
The mayor is offering signage for business owners to post so that customers know the rules before they enter the business.
Here is the poster that was sent out:
What’s wrong with this picture?
The addition of “shirt” and “shoes” to the mask requirement.
There’s no logical reason for the ‘shirt’ and ‘shoes’ part
Those two negative phrases have neither any relationship to fighting the spread of the coronavirus, nor are they included in the emergency directive the poster is supposed to be helping to enforce.
There is no logical reason for including “No shirts, No shoes” on the poster, and doing so trivializes the seriousness of the current pandemic as well as perpetuates the legitimacy of arbitrary exclusion of people based only their choice of attire or lifestyle.
‘No shirt, No shoes’ rules were originally created in the late 1960s to keep out war-protesting hippies
Signs reading “No shirt, No shoes, No service” evolved from the racist signs of the past to become political weapons of the late 1960s and early 1970s in this country. Such signs have no business being associated in any way with the efforts to prevent the spread of this potentially deadly virus.
I recently wrote about the history of those signs in, “‘No bare feet’ signs are similar to the racist signs of the past.”
The Key West poster is seriously flawed – false and misleading in its statements
This Key West poster the City has sent out is misleading and false, and should be recalled and either corrected or discarded.
The poster has two basic problem issues:
- By including “No shirt, No shoes” along with “No mask,” the poster is implying that lack of shirts or lack of shoes will somehow help spread the coronavirus – the same as lack of a mask.
There is absolutely no evidence of that, nor has the CDC or any other medical expert or authority in this country made such an assertion. In fact, shoes themselves are likely spreaders of the virus, much more than bare feet could ever be.
I wrote an article about that as well, “Bare feet are much less a risk for COVID-19 than shoes are.”
- By including the notice of “violation…is subject to imprisonment of up to 60 days and/or a fine of up to $500” on the poster, that is telling readers that not wearing a shirt or not wearing shoes in a business is now a citable crime.
Failure to wear a shirt or shoes in a business is certainly not a crime in the City of Key West, the State of Florida, or any other place in the United States. Nor does any health department in this country mandate such a thing for customers, contrary to a popular myth.
Of course, private businesses may set up their own dress code and require customers to dress in some particular way in order to be welcome. That’s their prerogative.
But currently, less than 1% of the roughly 4,000 businesses in Key West have such signs. That’s about the same average throughout the country. And none of those in Key West that have signs use the rude and outdated alliterative wording of “No shirt, No shoes, No service” (that I am aware of).
To assume this archaic and demeaning sign from times past is somehow ubiquitous and accepted in this day and age is to have little to no knowledge or understanding of the history of this discriminatory phrase and its application in the current diverse world we live in.
Email sent to the mayor of Key West remains unanswered
I and several others who have grave concerns about this Key West poster have sent emails to the mayor.
On May 31, I sent this email to the mayor of Key West:
The Honorable Teri Johnston
Mayor of Key West, Florida
Dear Mayor Johnston,
I am not a resident of Key West, but I have friends who live there, and I’ve been a visitor to your wonderful city a number of times. My Key West friends have told me that you’ve been doing an excellent job as mayor since you were elected in 2018.
I have just been made aware of a poster you have sent out to businesses in an effort to help combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
I absolutely agree that masks should be worn to help prevent the spread of the virus.
However, I was shocked and saddened that you would somehow equate that with the arbitrarily discriminatory and rude signs reading “No shirt, no shoes, no service” and include that on the poster.
Preventing the spread of this coronavirus is serious. Signs reading “No shirt, no shoes, no service” evolved from the racist signs of the past to become political weapons of the late 1960s and early 1970s in this country. Such signs have no business being associated in any way with the efforts to prevent the spread of this virus.
By putting the two concepts together, you are trivializing the seriousness of the current pandemic as well as perpetuating the legitimacy of arbitrary exclusion of people based only their choice of attire or lifestyle.
The vast majority of businesses nowadays realize those signs are nothing more than rude unwelcoming holdovers from the past that should not be on storefronts. I wrote an article about the history of such signs that you may be interested in reading, <https://borntolivebarefoot.org/no-bare-feet-signs-are-similar-to-the-racist-signs-of-the-past/>
Wear a mask – yes, absolutely. Must wear shirts or shoes as well? There’s no relationship whatsoever. What the poster is suggesting is in effect spreading false information by implication.
Wearing a shirt or wearing shoes does nothing to stop the spread of this virus. In fact, shoes themselves are likely spreaders of the virus, much, much more than bare feet could ever be. I wrote an article about that as well, <https://borntolivebarefoot.org/bare-feet-are-much-less-a-risk-for-covid-19-than-shoes-are/>
The poster could just as easily have stated simply, “No mask, No entry.” The poster also indicates that “Violation… is a 2nd degree misdemeanor punishable by 60 days in jail and a $500 fine,” which will now falsely put into people’s minds that not wearing shoes or a shirt is a crime, which of course it isn’t. And it is not a part of the emergency directive, either.
As part of a diverse community of people who have chosen to live our lives barefoot, I find such wording on an otherwise important poster for storefronts in Key West to be exceedingly offensive. And such wording reflects the exact opposite of the inclusiveness that I always thought Key West represented.
I hope you will take what I’ve written into serious consideration, as I respectfully ask that you recall and correct those posters.
I look forward to hearing back from you if you have any questions or comments.
(Mr.) Kriss Sands
As of this writing, she has not answered my email.
Key West has always represented inclusiveness for people of all lifestyles – apparently not any more
This new poster with its offensive and demeaning wording represents a stark departure from the welcoming and tolerant attitude that I’ve always known Key West to have. I have many friends living in Key West, and when I’ve visited there, I’ve never had any problem being who I am – that is, a person who lives barefoot, with no exceptions.
This new poster as it’s worded will likely change attitudes, causing the once friendly people and businesses of Key West to start fearing someone’s freedom of choice to be barefoot. Fearing falsely that barefoot people will somehow spread the virus as they break the new “law.”
This is a very poorly thought out and designed poster. It needs to be recalled.