As those who have driven through Oregon and New Jersey know, both deep blue states ban self-service at gas stations.
But with the spread of COVID-19, what began as a regulatory giveaway to the gas station lobby now looks like plain idiocy that has undoubtedly contributed to the spread of the virus.
New Jersey’s Democratic Governor today tweeted that despite COVID-19, the state would absolutely not be shifting its policies to allow people to pump their own gas, and thereby ensure that the same gas station attendants would not be touching the hands, money, credit and debit cards and more of hundreds of customers a day.
Apparently, the regulations have been enforceable up until now, raising the prospect that a regulatory thumb on the scales for gas stations has contributed to limited social distancing across the state and increased contact of the type likely to spread the virus.
While some Jersey folks are arguing on Twitter that keeping the policy in place will limit virus spread because hundreds of people won’t be touching the same pump handles every day, the reality is that it would likely be easier to prevent it spreading by encouraging customers to wipe down the pump handles before and after each use with sterilizing wipes or gel. At a minimum, it’s hard to grab ahold of people’s cards, or money, without getting within 6 feet of them.
Yet the power of the gas station lobby and lingering tradition abides.