Already Hurting, Bars and Restaurants Forced to Take the Punishment Amid Rise in COVID-19 Cases

Posted: Jun 29, 2020 9:30 PM
Already Hurting, Bars and Restaurants Forced to Take the Punishment Amid Rise in COVID-19 Cases

Source: AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

Amid a concerning spike in cases of COVID-19 in several states across the U.S., leaders have issued new orders forcing bars and restaurants to close, or greatly curtail their business. In Texas, California, New Jersey, and Florida, governors have decreed that concern over the increase in case numbers of the novel coronavirus has given them no choice but to suffocate businesses already on the precipice of total ruin.

Of course, the massive protests and encampments of people breaking every social distancing guideline while claiming to be fighting for "justice" over the death of George Floyd have not received criticism from a single state leader. But bars, whose entire existence depends on social gatherings of mostly younger people, are being told they cannot continue the reopening process after months of shutdowns.

In Florida and Texas, two states seeing a rise in cases of COVID-19, bars have been either forced to close entirely or relinquish their legal right to serve liquor. New Jersey, set to reopen indoor dining across the state on Thursday, has suspended that allowance indefinitely. It is still unclear how socially distanced indoor dining with the state's strict hygiene measures would increase risk of transmission.

As the governors noted when handing out their new executive orders this week, amplified testing has yielded higher numbers of cases and more than half of the newly identified cases are among the young. As medical experts have said since the beginning of the pandemic, younger people are less likely to be hospitalized or die from the illness.

But, as Dr. Birx noted during last week's White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing, it is up to younger Americans to protect the vulnerable, which include those over 80 and those with co-morbidities, like obesity and Type 1 diabetes. So while likely not fatal, infection spread in the younger part of our population is still dangerous as the vulnerable can be infected by the virus. But rather than protect those most vulnerable, the young, rule-following bar patrons and would-be indoor diners of New Jersey must take all the responsibility.

Rather than quarantining the sick and taking extra precautions to protect those most vulnerable in states with rising cases of the virus, governors decided the only answer was to issue yet another devastating financial blow to an industry already crippled by the pandemic.

Barely back on their feet, if they were lucky to not be one of the 100,000+ businesses that have already closed permanently because of the shutdowns, bars and restaurants are now being shuttered again. As these businesses gained hope for life after a deadly pandemic claimed more than 120,000 Americans and imploded the economy, the second wave of shutdowns, which many promised weren't coming, could seal their fate.

Even with flowery language like "pausing reopening," and "temporarily suspending," the gut punch to bars and restaurants will land with tremendous impact. As beach towns in Florida are told they must shut down bars heading into Independence Day weekend, the outlook for the remainder of summer is dreary. The season is nearly halfway gone, and now they're closing again.

Businesses watching protesters march through the streets without so much as a sidewise glance from leaders who continue to champion the cause of wokeness and statue destroying are left to wonder how they'll survive. DeSantis cited bars in Florida flagrantly violating social distancing guidelines as his motive for shutting them down. But those bar owners must have wondered why they were left playing an impossible game of financial catch up while "peaceful protesters" were celebrated for expressing themselves.

Goalposts have moved from "flatten the curve" to a now undefinable goal that may or may not even be met if there ever is a vaccine. At what point will a bar or restaurant owner feel confident that they will be allowed to open and not again close? Shutdowns this spring were described by leaders as an emergency necessity to catch up to the virus and learn more about it. That's happened now. When will the threat of devastating shut downs finally be lifted?