Stop Going to Bars

Illustration for article titled Stop Going to Bars
Photo: ALEX EDELMAN/AFP (Getty Images)

It’s Friday, baby! Time to put on a nice pair of pants, hit up some pals, and... sit your ass down right there. You have absolutely no business going to a bar. Not today. Not next week. Hell, I’d stock up on enough booze to last through at least New Year’s. Because—maybe you haven’t heard—there is a goddamn pandemic going on, and getting sloshed in a room full of random people is only making this nightmare worse for everyone.

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The United States racked up more than 37,000 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, a new daily record. This brings our shameful national tally to more than 2.4 million recorded cases of covid-19 and nearly 125,000 deaths. The surge in new covid-19 cases follows a number of states allowing businesses, including restaurants and bars, to reopen.

Or, at least, they were reopening until today, when some of the states seeing a coronavirus spike, including Texas and Florida, began to realize that they did the dumb thing. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced today that bars across the state must re-close (they were allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity), while Florida has banned the consumption of alcohol at all its bars.

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“I think the governor is doing the right thing,” Carol Dover, president and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, told the Miami Herald. “We’ve got to get this under control so we can get life back to normal.”

Carol is right. We should all listen to Carol—who, we should be clear, is a lobbyist for bars. If even Carol thinks this is a good move, then anyone who thinks, “Hey, you know, now seems like a great time to go to a bar,” is a selfish moron.

Why are bars being targeted more heavily than other businesses? Because they’re festering super-spreader bubbles for covid-19. As Kaiser Health News reports, bars in Idaho, Louisiana, Wisconsin, and Florida have all been linked to rampant coronavirus outbreaks. A big reason for this, obviously, is that people make terrible decisions when they’re drinking—meaning not social distancing, not wearing masks, and generally throwing caution to the wind as they toss back Fireball shots. Which leads to scenes like this:

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As thunderously stupid as the scene above is, I get it. We’ve all been cooped up for months, tens of millions of people are unemployed, and Zoom parties suck ass. It’s understandable that you’d want to go out for the night and wash away some of that stress with a few cocktails. Literally everyone who drinks wants to do that! But here’s the thing: You can’t. Even if your governor says you can, you still can’t, as we’re seeing in states that tried to ignore the reality that the pandemic is still very much here. And if you do, either you could get sick or someone you blunder into could.

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The assumption here is that people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s are the culprits because they’re more likely to go to bars and less likely to feel at risk of serious coronavirus infection. It’s true that previously members of the under-50 crowd have suffered a slightly lower rate of covid-19 hospitalizations than older groups, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But more people under 50 are getting infected, with people ages 20 to 44 accounting for almost 50 percent of all new covid-19 cases in Arizona, while the median age for infected individuals dropped to 35 in Florida, per a New York Times report. But even if you don’t care about getting sick yourself, or don’t believe you will because you’re ignorant or delusional, that’s irrelevant: The point is that you could get someone else sick—a thing you should know because everyone has been saying it for months.

Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t buy your booze to go from bars if you can—as long as you buy it while wearing a mask and social distancing. Bars need money to survive, so if you want to have a bar to go to once this cloud of covid-infected crap lifts, that’s a valid choice. But standing around in a room filled with giggling dipshits not wearing masks and yelling over the house band is a surefire way to be a horrible person right now.

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The fact of the matter is, politicians are under immense pressure to get the economy back up and running as quickly as possible. But right now, the ones moving the fastest are fucking up on a historic scale, costing people’s lives and ensuring this hellstorm goes on as long as possible. You, meanwhile, are under no such pressure. All you have to do is wash your hands and wear a mask whenever you leave the house, which you should do as little as possible. Nowhere in that list is a demand that you get smashed at a bar and swap that ceaseless feeling of doom in your stomach for a red wine hangover.

So this weekend—even if your state government says you can go to a bar—do the right thing: Stay home, pour yourself a nice adult beverage, and cry alone in your room like the rest of us.

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Deputy Editor, Gizmodo

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DISCUSSION

Andrew, this Florida woman needs a drink. Or five.