With restaurants and bars continuing to reopen, some students say that they are ready for the transition back to normalcy, while others fear people in bars may let alcohol affect their judgment, causing virus spread.
This is the first time COVID-19 restrictions have been eased this much, allowing businesses to open at nearly full capacity. Some students say they are comfortable with bars and restaurants opening if everyone takes precautions.
“I think if everyone wears a mask, besides eating and drinking, they will be fine,” said Brandon Justice, a senior at the University of Memphis. “I will say I can see how keeping a mask on at a bar can be difficult, especially when you have been drinking.”
Bars and restaurants are high risk areas for spreading the coronavirus, and there are many concerns when it comes to staying safe while having fun. Alcohol has effects on an individual’s social behavior and alters their judgment, so the service industry has been a hotbed for the virus since it reached the United States.
Justice is concerned about people getting drunk at bars and not caring about wearing their masks.
“I haven’t been to any bars or restaurants,” he said. “I wouldn’t mind, but I honestly think it’s hard to try to enjoy yourself and let loose [and] still have to watch your every move for COVID.”
Although the Shelby County Health Department has eased COVID restrictions, following precautions will continue to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. There is still a lot to keep in mind when hanging out at bars and restaurants. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has listed a few considerations on their website.
“Well, considering I’m a stay-at-home mom now, the bars don’t really phase me personally,” said Ciara Clark, a senior at the University of Memphis. “The restaurants could be a different story.”
Restaurants are continuing to offer curbside pickup and contact-free delivery. Shelby County Health Department directive Number 18 allows restaurants to stay open until midnight. Although restaurants are opened at almost full capacity, social distancing will remain in place with a six-foot separation between tables.
Although some governors around the country, such as Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, have fully opened their states in an effort to save businesses and boost the U.S. economy, some mayors have kept restrictions in their cities.
City officials in Miami Beach, however, are using exteme measures, such as shooting pepper balls into rowdy crowds, to disburse thousands of young people under the influence of alcohol congregating in big crowds without masks during spring break. Miami Beach has also issued an 8 p.m. curfew for the popular tourist area, South Beach.
The fear is that just when the virus seems to be waining, these spring break visitors will not only spread the virus in cities they are visiting but then take the virus to their home states after spring break. Many health officials predict a virus spike in the weeks following Spring Break.
Meanwhile in Memphis, many see mask wearing as the key to keeping the virus in decline.
“I just hope people continue to protect themselves by wearing their masks,” said Clark.