Happy hour

So here’s a compromise with which almost no one is happy, which is usually a sign that a compromise is a good one.

The Editorial Board
Sun, 09 Aug 2020 04:00:00 GMT

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As Ohio officials trace the state’s surging coronavirus case numbers to the reopened bars and restaurants, Gov. Mike DeWine has ordered that last call for drinks be moved up to 10 p.m. each night. It’s the latest on a long list of orders that makes almost no one in Ohio happy, even as it will protect public health and Ohio jobs.

Bars and restaurants who don’t want their hours curtailed were unhappy enough to sue, though a judge recently rejected a request to strike down the order immediately. Advocates who have urged a return to the more strict shutdown precautions to halt the spread of the coronavirus were disappointed in what they see as a half measure. Patrons who want to enjoy evenings at their favorite watering holes are likewise unhappy.

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So here’s a compromise with which almost no one is happy, which is usually a sign that a compromise is a good one.

Since the beginning of the pandemic we’ve struggled to strike a balance between establishing reasonable precautions against contagion and allowing commerce to continue so businesses can stay afloat. To say that’s been tricky is an understatement.

But there is no question that in the months since Ohio’s bars and restaurants reopened, the precautions established to protect patrons and employees have not succeeded. And usually, according to reports from authorities tasked with enforcing these precautions, that’s because too many people are ignoring them.

Ohio’s contact-tracing efforts are showing bars and restaurants are the nexus for spreading the virus. Since July 1, more than 50 outbreaks have been traced to bars and restaurants.

The Ohio Investigative Unit responsible for enforcing the state health orders related to coronavirus safety protocols has issued nearly 100 citations in bars and restaurants since March.

Unfortunately, some patrons and proprietors are deliberately ignoring these precautions out of ignorance or defiance. In many other cases, it seems that once folks begin sharing drinks and socializing, it becomes too difficult to remember the rules: stay seated, stay at least 6 feet away from other people, keep masks on when you’re not eating or drinking.

Shuttering these businesses entirely again would be devastating. The 10 p.m. last call is one more attempt at creating a way for Ohio businesses to stay open while reducing the chances of spreading coronavirus.

Everyone has a part to play in supporting our favorite establishments. Be conscientious of the coronavirus precautions, be patient, and tip well.

And since last call is going to come around a few hours earlier now, maybe become a happy hour regular. This is the best, safest way forward for Ohio.