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(This post has been updated.)

Once we’re done debating whether children should be vaccinated, we can move on to other pressing public health questions, such as whether eateries can force their employees to wash their hands after they use the bathroom.

At least one freshman U.S. senator thinks, “nah.” Because freedom.

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), at the end of an appearance Monday at the Bipartisan Policy Center, volunteered a story about “his bias when it comes to regulatory reform.”

Tillis said he was at a Starbucks in 2010 talking to a woman about regulations and where businesses should be allowed to opt out. His coffee companion challenged him, asking whether employees there should be required to wash their hands.

“As a matter of fact I think this is one where I think I can illustrate the point,” he recalled telling her. “I don’t have any problem with Starbucks if they choose to opt out of this policy as long as they post a sign that says we don’t require our employees to wash their hands after leaving the restroom. The market will take care of that. It’s one example.” (Is requiring a sign not a regulation?)

Tillis, who told the story with his right hand raised for emphasis, concluded that in his example most businesses who posted signs telling customers their food workers didn’t have to wash their hands would likely go out of business. Ah, the free market!

Closing the event, Bipartisan Policy Center President Jason Grumet said, “I’m not sure if I’m going to shake your hand…” (But then he did.)

Just so you know, in describing why handwashing is required, the FDA says, “Proper handwashing reduces the spread of fecal-oral pathogens from the hands of a food employee to foods.”

If Tillis’s career in politics doesn’t work out, may we politely suggest he pursue anything but food service.

Updated at 5:30 p.m.: An Associated Press reporter caught up with Tillis on Capitol Hill, and the senator did not back down from his belief that businesses should “get to make that decision versus government.”

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