The Daily Gamecock

Column: Bars will still be there after COVID-19

Five Points is a popular nightlife area for local USC students.
Five Points is a popular nightlife area for local USC students.

Stop putting yourselves and your bartenders at risk for COVID-19. It might feel nice to finally be with friends and go out partying, but it’s not worth dragging out this plague any longer.

According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, there have been 14,591 COVID-19 cases reported in Richland County as of Tuesday, and hundreds more are getting reported in South Carolina each day. When Louisiana started letting bars open again in July, it could conclusively trace over 400 cases to bars alone in that month. Additionally, 200 cases can be traced to a single bar in East Lansing, Michigan.

The mental effects of isolating yourself from friends for weeks or even months on end can hurt. Increased depression and anxiety can come with not being near others. However, it’s likely catching an incredibly transmittable, potentially deadly pathogen is not particularly great for your mental health either.

Going to house parties is not a great move, but going to bars? Come on. You’re around a bunch of strangers, some of whom are inebriated and won’t make the most COVID-safe decisions. It’s easier to contact your friends and roommates and tell them you got a positive test if that unfortunately happens to you, but it’s difficult for a bar to track down all its patrons and tell them that someone there came down with the virus — if someone alerts a bar they went to at all.

Even if it’s publicized that someone who tested positive went to a certain bar, there’s still a chance not every person that came into contact with them watches the news, reads the newspaper or even has accounts on social media they follow that would make them aware of that.

On top of this, at least house parties consist of people who chose to be there. Bartenders, servers and hostesses don’t have that choice. Many people can't afford to quit their job right now, even if the one they have forces them to be in contact with the general public. 

Now, you might defend going out by saying you’re supporting local businesses. But is that the primary reason you’re going out, or is it to get drunk with your friends? You could order takeout food or cocktails from a bar to support it financially in a safe way. Going downtown and drinking for hours is not the only choice. 

It’s hard to adjust, even after months of this being the new normal. It’s understandable that, after the summer ends, anyone would want to act as if everything is fine and not notice that restaurants have a few less tables and all the bartenders and servers are wearing masks. It’s hard to ask everyone, especially people whose normal is going out and partying at bars in Five Points or the Vista, to stop everything when that hasn’t really been asked of Americans on such a large scale since a hundred years ago. 

However, it is being asked. Numbers don’t lie. The consequences are real, and while they might not impact you, they could affect someone you love, a fellow Gamecock or even someone who was in the same bar as you on Friday night.