Other areas are also worried about the impact bars are having on their recovery plans.

By Mike Pomranz
June 30, 2020
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As America grapples with our modern-day COVID-19 pandemic, for businesses like bars and restaurants, to open, or not to open—to rework a line from William Shakespeare who dealt with the closure of playhouses due to bubonic plague during his own lifetime—that is the question. After weeks of reopenings in locales across the country, many areas are now deciding that, actually, certain businesses may have been allowed to reopen too soon—with bars especially landing in the crosshairs.

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Late last week, Texas and Florida reversed course, ordering bars to stop alcohol sales. On Sunday, California also told bars in counties across the states that they either should or must shut back down. Now, this week, other areas are following suit as well—including the entire state of Arizona.

On Monday, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey ordered that bars (as well as other businesses such as gyms and movie theaters)—which had been allowed to open since his previous stay-at-home order expired on May 15—would have to shut for at least 30 days starting at 8 p.m. The decision came as the state reported at least 3,000 new cases for seven of the past ten days, including 3,858 cases on Sunday, a new high, according to NPR. Data provided by the New York Times shows that, though the number of new cases in Arizona remained relatively low and steady throughout April and May, new cases have increased rapidly throughout June.

Even Ducey himself described the new data as “brutal,” and things were not looking good moving forward. “Our expectation is that our numbers next week will be worse,” he stated. Instead, he billed the new 30-day closures as “aspirational.” “Arizonans have been, by and large, terrific, fantastic and responsible,” he was quoted as saying at a news conference yesterday. However, “the photos and videos of some of the things that were happening around our state this weekend, and the result of that (type of activity) has been an increase in the spread.”

Ducey wasn’t the only governor offering up some “bad apples” reasoning. Though not re-closing bars, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced yesterday that he was canceling plans to allow indoor dining to return on Thursday due to “the national situation, compounded by instances of knucklehead behavior here at home,” primarily at outdoor bars, according to NJ.com.

Meanwhile, other states saw bar openings reverse on a more local level. In Pennsylvania, Allegheny County put an end to alcohol sales for on-site consumption after what was described as an “alarming spike” in coronavirus cases, according to WPXI. “For the first time since COVID-19 cases were confirmed in the state, Allegheny County led the state in the number of new COVID-19 cases,” County Executive Rich Fitzgerald stated.

Additionally, Oregon appears to be on the brink of heading in the same direction. Yesterday, Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced that everyone would be required to wear a mask indoors starting on July 1, before adding an ominous warning. “I do not want to have to close down businesses again like other states are now doing,” she stated. “If you want your local shops and restaurants to stay open, then wear a face-covering when out in public.” Bars in some parts of the state began to reopen on June 12.