It’s time to put the welcome sign back out for visitors to our “County of Trails.”

Langlade County tourism officials are developing marketing plans to promote the area and all it has to offer, and with Monday’s announcement that Gov. Tony Evers is easing up—just a  bit—on some business closure issues, there is a tinge of optimism.

But a stumbling block remains the county’s order—dated March 24—asking all those owning secondary homes in Langlade County to stay away.

It made sense at the time, especially as the pandemic was just beginning to develop and the number of unknown factors was high. But seven weeks later, more is known about transmission and testing and state efforts to reduce illnesses and deaths have been working.

Even at the height of the pandemic worries, that “stay away” order always rankled us a bit, especially considering the property tax and retail support our summer residents and visitors provide.

Now, as the summer season ticks closer, it makes no sense. On one hand, we are keeping the door closed while on the other, we are developing marketing plans to lure visitors north and seasonal residents to their cottages.

And all the while the roads are full of visitors with out-of-state license plates.

It’s a ridiculous situation.

We understand that it is beyond the county’s ability to lift its order asking people to stay away. As Health Officer Meghan Williams explained on Monday, local governments cannot choose to just “open up” or modify the order as put out by the Department of Health Services. Instead, counties are charged with carrying out directions provided by the state to the extent possible.

But officials from Langlade and surrounding northwoods counties are free to band together in a serious lobbying effort to get that order lifted or at least substantially modified. We must allow our summer residents and visitors the opportunity to enjoy our County of Trails safely, with proper social distancing and other restrictions as necessary, to support our friends and neighbors.

In other words, let’s get that welcome mat back out.

But remind everyone to wipe their feet.