The reality is that opening bars here before the Covid-19 threat is fully under control is not a smart idea. I sympathize with the money-strapped owners and unemployed bartenders and do wish the Liquor Commission would exempt those huge annual license fee fsor this year and next. But keep them closed.
Right now, under Honolulu’s tier system, we have to be in tier 4 with fewer than 20 new cases a day over two weeks time to even talk about re-opening bars and nightclubs. No guarantee even then.
That’s smart control because bars are not asocial or social distancing places and you cannot drink with a mask unless it’s with a straw through a very small hole that’s plenty for a virus pass-through.
If it were left to me to decide, I’d not permit those “bar and grill” places to be open, either, just because they sell food in addition to alcohol. That’s just an excuse to be a bar. There money’s in the alcohol, not the carbohydrates.
Some bars have sued over being closed and I’d hope our courts will go along with the Emergency Order being the over-riding factor.
“These bars, some of which have been around for 30 years, are forced to close and they may not reopen,” says attorney James DiPasquale, representing the owners.
They do have this one factor in their favor. They say it’s unfair for restaurants to be allowed to reopen as long as they serve food despite also selling alcohol as a part of their regular menus. That might intrigue the courts as a unjustified discrimination issue.
But it would be suicide to open bars and nightclubs just as we are admitting pre-tested tourists who easily could be picking up the virus in the 72 hours before a trip here, at the airport, or during the minimum 5 hours on an airplane to get here. One of the first places many would patronize would be our bars.
This thing is tough on ALL businesses. Gyms had been closed until yesterday. There’s a steady clamor of “open ‘em up!” We’ve already done some questionable openings. Gyms are one. We don’t need Target or Best Buy, or even Costco. Yes, groceries and emergency repairs. But not the WalMart eyeglass store or even the neighborhood coffee shop.
And definitely not a bar or a liquor store.