Pinch of Salt Graphic (English)

There's a ride in California Adventure called Toy Story Midway Mania. It's sort of a shooting gallery, but you're moving through it, sitting in a car.

Disneyland proper has a similar ride, called Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, but Toy Story is way cooler.

Almost all the targets in Toy Story are moving. Beyond the sheer spectacle, the concept is a moving target is harder to hit.

Sound familiar?

Some of the biggest, most common complaints about how the government has handled the COVID-19 pandemic is the moving target set to allow restaurants, businesses, personal care services and entertainment venues to reopen. The yoyo of close, open, half-open, close, half-open that restaurant and bar owners have been forced to ride in the past year will be remembered. Officials at the state, county and city levels all had a hand in that. It could come back to haunt them.

There are two other pieces in this week's Grunion talking about the struggle to survive the pandemic and government's response to it. One on this page talks about the struggles to keep the arts alive. To be fair, the city government has doled out grants to keep art groups of all kinds afloat. But they don't want to just stay afloat — they want to open the doors.

The story on today's front page talks about not having a target at all when it comes to the convention and tourism industry. The only thing harder to hit than a moving target is a target you can't see at all.

I can understand the wait-and-see approach doctors and scientists prefer when it comes to reopening. I appreciate the concept of using the science available to make decisions.

Heck, I've been vaccinated and I still wear a mask in public, because the scientists say it's important.

But I was talking about moving targets.

Like most Southern Californians, I've been watching the theme park saga closely. I've been bemused by the changing safety protocols, and the levels of general infection being used to decide when and how much Disneyland and its brethren can open.

These days, we're using a four-step, color-coded chart. Purple is the worst (daughter Charlotte would not be happy about that). Essentially, nothing fun can be open.

Then we have red, orange and yellow in descending levels of infection, with parks getting to allow more people in as we go. Specifically, current state guidelines say capacity will be limited to 15% for parks in counties that are in the red tier; the cap rises to 25% once a county progresses to orange and 35% upon reaching the most lenient tier, yellow.

Yellow means there is less than one new case a day per 100,000 people, and less than 2% positive tests in the entire county. For 35% of capacity.

I'm no economist, but I'm having a hard time seeing Uncle Walt making money at 35% capacity. Are we looking at $200 tickets, or what?

But wait. The state has promised those restrictions will change as more people are vaccinated. They just haven't said how much it will change.

And what's below that yellow tier? How rare must the COVID-19 virus be before we can get back to our pre-pandemic lives?

I suspect even those making the rules don't know. And that makes planning for the future pretty much impossible.

Can you set that target up and leave it there, please?


Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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