Let’s Address “Bar Culture” During The Pandemic


Elle Love

Going to bars is usually a fun pastime, but is it worth the risk? Photo courtesy of Pexels.com

The year 2020 has not been kind to most of us, especially when we worry about the health and safety of the ones we love.However, when you live amongst those who decide to ignore public safety out of their own terms to “help the economy” and “return to normalcy,” it frustrates the rest of us who are diligently following quarantine measures to protect their family and to hope their efforts can reduce the spread of the virus so we can “return to normal.”

As a 20-something, I understand how frustrating it can be that we can’t go out and live through our youth before settling down, but I also understand that, for the sake of protecting my loved ones from possible infection, I need to stay indoors unless I need groceries or other necessities. Sometimes I miss having in-person interactions with people, whether it’s in the classroom or at an Applebee’s trying out the monthly drink special and bonding with colleagues. However, we have a social responsibility to listen to medical experts and scientists on how to prevent the spread and protect others.

Currently there are over 145,000 COVID-19 cases in Nebraska alone with over 1,300+ deaths in total, according to the New York Time’s Nebraska coronavirus map and case count. In Douglas County alone, there are over 46,000 cases in the area with over 400 deaths and counting.

With the rising numbers, you have to ask yourself if it’s worth going to a semi-crowded place, pay for drinks that could’ve been made at home and socialize without a mask.

The actions of others ignoring restrictions to go out during the pandemic raises questions about the toxic bar culture that seems to play a huge part in the rising cases in the United States nationwide.

A survey of over 300 adults who tested positive for COVID-19 found that they were more than twice as likely to have dined in at a restaurant in two weeks before getting sick than people who were  infected. Those who tested positive and did not have close contact with anyone sick are also more likely to report going to a bar or coffee shop, according to the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The transmission of the virus occurs mostly in areas with inadequate ventilation and a lack of airflow.

Dr. Anthony Fauci director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that Americans have to stop congregating in bars.

“Bars: really not good, really not good. Congregation at a bar, inside, is bad news. We really have got to stop that,” Fauci said to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing on “COVID-19: Update on Progress Toward Safely Getting Back to Work and Back to School.”

Although bars may not be a safe option to dine in, we can still support bars through ordering drinks to go if the option is provided.

The most popular activities replacing visiting bars and restaurants in the United Kingdom during the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown in 2020 were having virtual gatherings with friends and family, playing board games and ordering hot food, according to the Statista study about alternatives to visiting pubs and restaurants during COVID-19 lockdowns in the UK. In the same study, only a small share of people took part in a ‘big night in’ and/or tried to recreate drinks they would normally only purchase when going out.

Other alternatives include ordering drinks. In Nebraska, restaurants and bars are allowed to sell individual mixed drinks, beer, and other alcoholic beverages to go as long as the containers are sealed with a lid and not partially consumed, according to an executive order by Gov. Pete Ricketts in March.

However, Ricketts should not receive all the praise, as many bars and restaurant dine-in areas are currently open in restricted settings. Having a take-out option alone can help slow the transmission of the virus while supporting local bars that are respecting CDC guidelines.

I’m not arguing for us to stop going to bars completely because they need as much financial support during these tough times, but going out for a drink at the bar in the dine-in area is not worth risking your loved ones or your life for.