By Mary Will Showman|
As COVID-19, or novel coronavirus, spreads across the country, governors in many states are doing their part to contain it by closing restaurants and bars and urging citizens to stay home.
In this time of social distancing, I was immediately on board with the idea of closures. Some people are not taking the Center for Disease Control’s advice to stay away from large crowds of people and I fear that could have extremely negative consequences.
A video of a packed downtown Nashville bar circulated through social media recently and ignited a polarizing debate about whether it is actually necessary for people to stay home, especially those in less at-risk age groups.
At first thought, it seems like a no-brainer that bars and restaurants should be closed for at least the next two weeks; it’s clear just asking people not to go out isn’t effective. No one needs to be going to bars every weekend or out to eat constantly.
However, I realized this is a much more complicated situation. People don’t need to go out, but bartenders, servers and small business owners do need people to come in.
It’s really easy to tell people to stay home and try not to go out, but forget the people who have jobs that rely heavily on tips.
“I definitely think it’s a good idea for restaurants and bars to close, but on the other hand, I’m worried about being out of a job. Since I rely on tips alone, I won’t be making any money for as long as they’re shut down, but obviously I do understand why we need to close down to prevent the spread of the virus. It’s kind of a weird situation to be in,” says Augusta University student Kylie Gutierrez, who works as a bartender at Mellow Mushroom.
Some restaurants around town have attempted to find a solution by closing the dining room and only giving the option of drive-thru or take out.
Fat Man’s Cafe released a statement on their Facebook page stating “To our new and frequent customers, starting tomorrow we will embrace change through the challenges that the COVID-19 virus has placed on us and our country. Our dining spaces will be closed until further notice as a cautious response to our situation!”
Restaurant chains like Chick-fil-A, McDonald’s and Starbucks (ones not in Kroger or Target) have closed their dining rooms and are only allowing for take-out or drive-thru options.
Southbound Smokehouse and Abel Brown Southern Kitchen & Oyster Bar are the only Augusta establishments that have fully closed their doors and more places are sure to follow.
Contact Mary Will Showman at MSHOWMAN@augusta.edu.