Friday, November 13, 2020

Coronavirus Update 11-13-2020: Closing restaurants and bars is NOT the solution to fixing the spread of COVID-19

During his most recent scolding of Ohio's citizens, Governor DeWine threatened to close restaurants and bars if the state's Covid numbers don't quickly improve. He figures if people can't behave responsibly he'll close the places they are mass-congregating to slow the spread. 

His approach is wrong and dangerous.

It won't fix anything other than putting a whole lot of hard-working small business owners out of business. It certainly won't alter people's behaviors. It will just relocate those behaviors somewhere else that is more difficult to regulate and control.

People won't stop gathering or partying just because restaurants and bars are closed; they just do it inside someone's home. The problem, however, is that restaurants and bars are regulated by rules that require masks, distracting, occupancy limits, and sanitization; people's homes have none of those protections.

One local restaurant owner vented her frustration to
We constantly wear face masks, we social distance, it's a rule. Plus the fact that everything is clean because we have to keep it that way. We have rules. People will gather. If you close the restaurants they will gather at Uncle Earl and Aunt Betty's house. And I can tell you one thing: I don't know when the last time Uncle Earl and Aunt Betty cleaned their kitchen, and sure as hell they aren't washing their hands all the time. You know they're not wearing face masks and there is no social distancing.

It's short-sighted to vilify the restaurants when everybody knows Covid is being spread in small gatherings in people's homes between families. I think it's a safer option to gather together in a restaurant where … there is enforcement and things are clean.
Covid has revealed that some people are selfish and want to gather and party. Closing bars won't change their behavior; it will just relocate it. And if you can't alter behavior, why punish the small business owners who are trying their best to keep people safe while also doing their best to keep their businesses open?

My advice for Governor DeWine? Unless you're prepared to shut it all down (and I'm not opposed to considering such a measure as long as there are proper economic safeguards in place to protect businesses and jobs), you're doing more harm than good if you just shut down certain businesses to stop mass congregating. 

Everyone please have a masked, distanced, safe, and healthy weekend. I'll be back Monday with the final nominee for the Worst Employer of 2020, along with details on how this year's polling is going to work.