by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Christopher Bedford of the Federalist explains why American bars and restaurants are playing along with bizarre COVID-19 restrictions.
In big cities across America, we have seen some laugh-out-loud-ridiculous “COVID-prevention” measures in bars and restaurants. No menus allowed. Masks off when you’re at a table. Masks on when you go to the bathroom. Disposable cups only. “Hold a minute while we wipe down the chairs.”
Leave your name and your phone number (even though no mythical “contract tracer” would call were you to turn into a literal COVID cyclone). To say so gently, the experience has been frustrating for both guests and staff alike. …
… But before anyone thinks to get angry at your manager or business owner, stop — it’s often not their fault. They’re captives; small business in America is captive. While the guy in the Anthony Fauci T-shirt who owns your neighborhood bar might actually be on board, the vast majority of your city’s bartenders are just trying to survive.
First, small businesses are captive to the government. Second, small businesses are captive to their most neurotic customers. …
… Why do some restaurants again and again seem to go above and beyond even arbitrary city regulations? Often, and especially because they’re struggling, they need every customer they can get, and that, some have decided, means they need to keep their most neurotic customers comfortable.
Is there a line between making those who aren’t completely broken uncomfortable and making the broken ones happy? It’s hard, and it comes down to an owner or manager’s call, but those most neurotic customers have a secret weapon normal people will never use: calling the government. …
… The sad reality is the same government inspectors who in good times will shut down a brewery for not having a restaurant’s “chicken fridge” (this actually happened) will in bad times try to shut down a brewery for far less in the name of COVID-19. These idiots have the power of life and death over a small business — and they’ve been just thrilled to exercise it.