The current shelter-in-place restrictions were enacted to lower people’s risk of contracting COVID-19. We get that. But we also get that local businesses have been handicapped during a holiday season that they were counting on as their most profitable time of the year.

It’s a dilemma for all of us: We need to stay safe, and hunkering down at home makes sense. But we also need to take care of business, literally and figuratively. Holiday traditions call. This means Christmas shopping. Now more than ever, patronizing local retailers and restaurants is vital.

There are convenience and low-risk advantages to shopping online, of course. But there’s such high demand that the post office, FedEx, UPS and other shipping services can’t guarantee packages will arrive on time.

We believe the risk is equally low if people visit businesses in Los Altos’ seven shopping districts. For shoppers, all it takes is a mask and social distancing. For retailers, safety protocols are in place to ensure cleanliness and restrictions on the number of customers who can be in stores at one time. Furthermore, some retailers offer the options of pickup and delivery, as do restaurants.

It’s a win-win when shopping local. Customers get what they want and need without the wait and uncertainty that comes with online shopping. Our shops get the support they desperately need. And we can't emphasize this enough - they are open.

The limits on retailers and restaurants put them at risk of going out of business. When we all emerge from the pandemic, chances are a large number of them will have closed their doors for good. Some already have. That can’t continue to happen.

We fully acknowledge the conundrum here between safety and shopping. But both can occur, even with the current spike in COVID cases, if we take the proper precautions. The stores are doing their part. Avoid lengthy browsing and lingering. Know what you want, make your purchases and go home. It’s not the ideal holiday experience, but it’s the best approach for all concerned.

Happy holidays from the Town Crier team.