TOPIC OF THE WEEK: Thoughts about bars and restaurants reopening
the photo is of the local UA restaurant Frog & Firkin. Additional photos are of the Frog & Firkin greeting sign and the local Tucson restaurant Hi-Fi.
Frog & Firkin and other bar-restaurant establishments have officially reopened their patios for dining services. Downtown social spots like Hi Fi are welcoming back customers on account of Gov. Doug Ducey’s green light to open as of May 15. Many people are already out getting drinks with friends, some sporting face masks and others opting not to.
Tucson Mayor Regina Romero voiced her apprehension on reopening but was unable to counter the governor’s executive order. She urged Tucsonans to maintain social distancing protocol and wear face masks.
How do our writers feel about restaurants and bars reopening? Where do we stand on our own comfortability regarding personal and public health?
Scared, sad and pissed off. By allowing restaurants and bars to resume on-site dining services, businesses and employees that may be uncomfortable with that decision are financially backed into a corner. The lack of support from the top ultimately seeps into the attitudes of citizens.
I understand where the “everything’s fine” mindset comes from — Ducey said it was okay. The president even said it was okay. I’m not shaming anyone for hoping that things will get better sooner rather than later. But the fact of the matter is that they’re not and won’t be for a long time if we continue to disregard public health.
It’s glaringly obvious that most government officials in charge of the big decision do not care about the people on the ground. The governor of Texas admitted to saying, “Listen, the fact of the matter is pretty much every scientific and medical report shows that when you have a reopening, … it actually will lead to an increase and spread.”
By reopening so soon and with little to no precautions, we are doing so in acceptance of unnecessary sickness and death. I have driven by these Tucson establishments and seen the blatant lack of social distancing between people and tables.
If social spots were not allowed to reopen in the first place, there would be no need for personal ethical questioning. Once again, it’s up to the people to choose to act with regard to public health and well-being. We have to protect ourselves when our representatives don’t.
It’s not just you and your potentially young and healthy body that could recover, it’s the dozens of other people you could infect all for a Natty Light and giant Jenga downtown. It’s increasing the demand for service workers and putting their lives on the line for your night on University Boulevard, and the people who have properly social-distanced since March so you wouldn’t get sick. If you can’t go somewhere and conduct business with a mask on and at a safe distance, then it is not worth it.
There is obvious unease about restaurants and social spots in Tucson reopening. Residents are worried, and rightly so. If even one person at an establishment is infected, it could endanger dozens of people. In turn, those people could continue to spread the virus to others.
As I currently write this in Austin, Texas, I see similar fears plague people. Texas, notoriously, has been one of the first states to open the doors of establishments to people. Its plan has been considered ambitious and not very well-thought-out.
Meanwhile, back in my home place, India, the government has been unprecedentedly proactive in its treatment of the situation. Ever since March, nationwide lockdowns have been implemented in stages, including separate statewide lockdowns, according to state government mandates. Of course, India has its own problems, including an extremely dense population. All possible obstacles considered, India’s model is laudable in its own context.
There is a lot to account for when taking all three perspectives into consideration. Overall, I agree that we cannot lock ourselves inside indefinitely — it is neither ideal nor practical. However, if we are to open establishments, we must do so with a profound degree of caution.
As numbers go down in some places, we must also remember that countries around the world are experiencing a second wave of COVID-19. In some cases, this round is worse than before. Although developments are underway, a vaccine is yet to be discovered, let alone a cure. We should also be aware that those who have recovered are mostly young individuals with no history of chronic disease. There are still thousands of elderly, immunocompromised, comorbid individuals for whom even the slightest infection spells a death sentence. Only the privileged are equipped to handle this virus.
This is not a "survival of the fittest" situation; it is a situation which favors the privileged. That is just one of the problems associated with restaurants reopening. The economy cannot be ignored, and for sure, we are headed for a terrible economic collapse. But nothing can compare to the value of a life.
I would say that I am very concerned about restaurants and other establishments bringing back a degree of on-sight dining services.
I have an immunocompromised family member in my home. Because of this, I have quickly realized that my choices and the choices of others during this pandemic could put them in terrible harm.
I have heard people say that the solution to the disagreement around going out is simple: Either go out or don’t, just leave people alone. Frankly, the decision doesn’t feel that simple for someone with an immunocompromised loved one.
While, yes, I am not going to go to a restaurant any time soon, transmission is not entirely up to me. What if while I’m out on a quick shopping trip I run into someone who was at a restaurant recently? Someone that was potentially at a riskier place for exposure?
At the end of the day, I also worry for our community that I know is struggling economically during COVID-19. I don’t know what the exact answer to all of this should be, but I do know that I worry about the immunocompromised people in my life. I feel as though we are taking very large steps much too early.
With America’s COVID-19 cases reaching over 1.7 million to date (according to the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus resource center), it’s ridiculous for any governor to think it’s acceptable to reopen any degree of dine-in services, outside seating or otherwise.
There are even people who are still traveling from state to state. With some individuals opting to not wear a mask at all, there is a greater opportunity for the virus to spread. Let’s not forget about those who are asymptomatic to the virus and may unknowingly transmit it. Establishments seem to be opening up solely for financial reasons, not because the country is safe.
Now that I’m back home, in between New Jersey and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, it’s absurd to see my friends in Arizona living life as if we were not in a global crisis. I haven’t hung out with a group of friends since March, haven’t been in a restaurant and can literally count on one hand the number of times I’ve gone to the store due to the severity and concern of being infected and infecting others.
The virus is not a joke. Many individuals' comfort regarding the personal and public health of others is encouraged by the current administration that has no regard for human life. The U.S. is about to reach two million cases, nearly four times the reported cases of Brazil, which was the second-leading country with the most viruses. That’s 20 times as much as China, currently experiencing about 85,000 cases and suspecting a second wave and lockdown.
The president claimed that there were no deaths three months ago, a time when there were 252 active cases and 42 deaths. Many ignorant people still choose to believe that false information. Imagine if you were a part of those 42 families and our president didn’t even have the diligence or concern to report the facts. The country is obviously not safe yet. Our leader is a liar and at this point, people are choosing to believe his falsities.