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After small business owners and employees who have been laid off due to the state shutdown there’s no one more conflicted about bars reopening than me. It’s not because I don’t have easy access to booze. I’ve been doing plenty of sad drinking alone at home thanks to breweries still having to-go sales. And I’ve made a name for myself by supporting all the producers of Arizona’s beer, wine, and spirits with the full force of my wallet and liver for years. So during this global pandemic I’ve been struggling to determine if I should be encouraging people to visit the few local businesses that are open and if I should even be patronizing these joints myself.
On Wednesday, July 29, Borderlands Brewing Co reopened their taproom to allow onsite drinking (after four months of being partially closed, offering to-go and delivery options only) with strict safety protocols that are undoubtedly a pain in the ass for the entire staff involved. They split up the seating in the patio and indoors so that customers could stay six feet apart. They require masks upon entry and when walking around the taproom. You have to get your temperature checked at the door and wait to be seated. You’re not allowed to sit at the bar or even go up there to order your beer which means the staff have to bring you beers to your table. You can pull up their beer menu on your phone by scanning their QMR code.
…Okay, give me a second to talk to the old people reading this right now. A QMR code is a little black and white picture of a square with a bunch of squiggly lines and shit. You take out your smartphone, pull up the camera, point it at the square and the phone will guide you to a website that has the beer menu. If you’re enough of an old that you still have a flip phone I must tell you that you’re shit out of luck and I have no help for you.
Anyhoozle, the Borderlands crew did a fantastic job of adhering to these safety protocols. They all wore masks and I saw them immediately spraying down every surface of the tables and chairs after customers left. But is that enough for us to be safe in a public area around other diseased humans, no matter how far apart they are? I honestly don’t know. So many people have their own stupid opinions about the pandemic and they’re more than eager to share them on Facebook and they’re all mostly idiots.
The solution to this pandemic is not hard to figure out. Pretty much every other country IN THE FUCKING WORLD got it right. Everything closes down and the government pays everyone to stay home until this gets resolved. That’s exactly why we pay taxes. We’re living through the literal apocalypse and this is the epitome of why a “rainy day fund” is needed. But some dumbasses still want to argue and concern-troll on Facebook about where all that money could possibly come from. (We’re supposed to be the richest country in the world. Shut the fuck up, bitch). So we have to be realistic and admit that ours is the only government that refuses to do what’s right.
And now we have to be realistic about the fact that our bartenders, who are the real heroes here, are forced to go back to work and put themselves at risk of The Rona because they desperately need to make a living. We have to be realistic about the fact that you and I are putting our favorite bartenders at risk by choosing to patronize these restaurants and bars and possibly infecting them with our drunken Rona breath. We have to realize that wearing masks is literally THE LEAST we can do when we’re out in public because we shouldn’t be out in public at all but that the mask is intended to be a simple safeguard during essential activities.
While sitting at Borderlands during their opening day I asked myself if this was even an essential activity. I asked myself if I was possibly risking the lives of the employees of a brewery I’ve loved for years. I wondered if I’d hate myself for not supporting them on their reopening day after all the time I spent telling everyone how awesome Borderlands was. I told myself that my being there, paying for beers, and tipping fat as a way of helping a small business that was struggling during the end of the world was ultimately a good thing.
Should I be encouraging other people to go to Borderlands (or any other local joint that’s open right now) during a pandemic?
I really don’t know.
What I can say for sure is that I’ve been to a few other restaurants with bar seating in the last couple of weeks and that some of them DO NOT give a fuck. They make a bit of a show with signs on their doors telling people to wear their masks and have indicators for social distancing but they do not enforce that shit at all. And the customers don’t give a fuck either. Lucky for these places I’m no goddamn snitch. But we have to do better.
Anyone who opens for business must follow Borderlands’ lead and adhere to their safety protocols without fail. And you must not give any leeway to these anti-mask dipshits. Treat these people like the public health hazards they are. Don’t worry about losing their business. Shame these fucking assholes into oblivion.
Oh, and also check out what Borderlands did with their beer garden. They laid down a bunch of bricks and built a killer patio for their grand reopening. Fuck yeah!
The Borderlands taproom is open Wed 4p-8p; Thu-Sat 12p-10p; Sun 12p-8p. Support your local breweries any way you can. They need the help now more than ever.
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