Much has been made -- quite rightly -- of the torrent of hypocrisy from politicians violating the letter or spirit of the COVID-19 restrictions and recommendations they've imposed on their constituencies. The list is long and growing. But it's also worth examining the impact of those regulations themselves. Very few Americans object to any and all COVID-related measures. We are weathering a deadly pandemic, driven by a highly contagious disease, after all. But when government edicts aren't backed up by any clear rhyme, reason, or solid science, public anger and defiance mounts -- compounded by the drumbeat of 'do as I say' revelations. Some of the most outrageous decrees are the weeks-long cessations of outdoor restaurant dining. Officials in various states and jurisdictions are nixing this practice, which is one of the last lifelines keeping small businesses afloat.
Restaurants have moved heaven and earth to accommodate previous rules severely limiting or barring indoor dining, spending precious and dwindling resources to enable outdoor seating as a crucial source of revenue. It's about survival, as bars and restaurants are dropping like flies under onerous government-imposed limitations. Now politicians are citing non-existent or dubious "science" to puncture those remaining life rafts, including politicians who say one thing and then do another. It's anti-empiricism, punitive, and infuriating. And that's just from the perspective of a consumer. It's devastating to the people whose livelihoods are being regulated into oblivion, and some of them are speaking out. Watch this righteous monologue from a prominent Southern California chef and restauranteur (content warning for language):
My message for all the haters. Please share the logic. Sorry, haven’t had a haircut since March. pic.twitter.com/SOjy3bt4l5— Chef Andrew Gruel (@ChefGruel) December 3, 2020
I appreciate that Gruel addressed the garbage 'if you disagree with any single COVID restriction, you want to kill people' attacks launched by tribalistic, preening devotees of "science" worship. Public policy is about trade-offs, and ignoring the profound and acute negative ramifications of various restrictions is actually a form of science denialism dressed up as studied enlightenment. Fortunately for barely-surviving establishments in SoCal, judicial relief might be forthcoming:
The California Restaurant Association moved one step closer to a possible victory in its fight to overturn an outdoor dining ban in Los Angeles County after a judge said county officials must show evidence that would link outdoor dining to the ongoing rise in coronavirus cases. The ruling was made today by Los Angeles Superior Court James C. Chalfant...The judge's ruling does not mean Los Angeles area restaurants can reopen outdoor dining. In fact, dine in operations ceased Wednesday in the city of Los Angeles after Mayor Eric Garcetti issued a targeted stay at home order. Effective immediately, all residents must stay at home and all businesses must cease operations that require in-person attendance by workers at a workplace, according to the order.
Meanwhile, a restaurant owner in Michigan whose viral rant got lots of recent attention appeared with Tucker Carlson last night:
It's difficult to listen to people like this and not merely sympathize with the palpable frustration and desperation, but also think hard about the real costs of lockdowns and heavy-handed regulations. If governments seem to be thoughtlessly and sloppily hurting people in arbitrary and confusing ways, there will be a backlash. Free citizens' breaking points will differ, but they certainly exist. I'll leave you with this:
My latest @latimes: Why are outdoor playgrounds closed but crowded indoor malls open? Nine weary months in, many Californians have entered the “why-is-this-closed-while-that-is-open” stage of the pandemic. One angry mom: “Let my kid swing on a f— swing..” https://t.co/UWZTv2HNRY— Hailey Branson-Potts (@haileybranson) December 3, 2020