Was it a mistake to reopen Oahu’s bars. I think a credible case can be made that the answer is a loud YES!
It appears to have been mostly a commercial decision. You could buy booze at a supermarket and drink at home. But bar owners were complaining about not knowing when they could do business again, under what circumstances, and what happens as the lease rents piled up as the revenue disappeared.
Now we see what happened. Some bars quickly overcrowded with people not masked because they were drinking. As they drank more, they got more social and less distancing.
One bar here beat the government on reopening by pretending to be a restaurant. You were not allowed to buy a drink until you purchased a pathetic sandwich.
Some bars have been taking their coronavirus precautions to heart and regulating who you can and can’t mingle with on their premises. That’s right, your bar may actually not allow you to socialize with strangers and will ask you to stick to the group of people you came with. But that’s the exception, I’m hearing, not the rule.
A Keeaumoku Street (bar alley) joint had 161 patrons when agents raided it. Its normal, fire code limit was 75 and Covid rules had required only 50% of that. No one was wearing a mask.
All reopening should be a community-wide project. Whether a bar or a school can reopen safely, for example, doesn’t just depend on capacity, personal protective equipment, or individual actions. It depends on how widespread the coronavirus is in the community outside the bar or school’s walls.
Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott said in a TV interview “If I could go back and redo anything, it probably would have been to slow down the opening of bars.”
He added: “A bar setting, in reality, just doesn’t work with a pandemic. People go to bars to get close and to drink and to socialize, and that’s the kind of thing that stokes the spread of the coronavirus.”
As Texas infections jumped (just like ours), Abbott re-shut the bars across the state as part of a series of moves to contain the coronavirus spike.
“At this time, it is clear that the rise in cases is largely driven by certain types of activities, including Texans congregating in bars,” he said.
California has also ordered bars to close again in much of the state. But not us. Here, it’s all about the economy.
New York magazine offered this piece of advice that I wish our governor and mayor would have paid more attention to:
“If you open bars and people take that opportunity to hold coronavirus super-spreading events with groups of friends, there is a larger population of infected people out there who can give COVID-19 to people they meet at the office, or in a supermarket, or in a small gathering at a neighbor’s home.
“So while reopening bars would seem to be a way to let some people go back to work, generate some more sales tax revenue, and give a frustrated public another opportunity to blow off steam, it is likely that jurisdictions that reopened their bars hurt their economies by increasing the virus spread and making members of the public reasonably more afraid to engage in a wide variety of activities seemingly unrelated to bars.”