Tuesday 11 August 2020
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huffingtonpost - 1 month ago

Don t Shame The Pub-Goers – If It s Not Safe, Blame The Government

pubs open their doors this weekendWhere would we be without the pub? We ve all spent the last three months getting a taste of the answer. For hundreds of years, the public house has been the structural embodiment of community. It s where people unwind, interact, celebrate, convene. First dates, reunions, break-ups, catch-ups and pep-talks are just the tip of the iceberg of what can be witnessed on any given day in a pub be it one with dog-eared carpets, sticky tables and great ale, or stripped floorboards, edgy playlist and posh sausage rolls. So attached are we to our local hangouts that we feel like we can lay claim to them.So, when the pubs open their doors this weekend for the first time since 20 March, there s no doubt that their bars, tables, cubby holes and gardens will quickly fill up with relieved punters.Other would-be pub-goers, though, will be staying very much away. By encouraging the hospitality industry to resume service, the government is effectively washing its hands of responsibility and preemptively placing the blame of any future outbreaks of Covid-19 on our individual shoulders.Everyone is taking the reemergence of the pre-pandemic world at their own pace. While some have leapt at the chance of meeting up with friends in parks and having people over for barbecues as soon as the guidance permits, others are biding their time until they feel at ease with dipping their toe in activities that have been considered to potentially spread a deadly virus. Fair enough. The thing is, it s become more obvious over the fortnight since the government announced that the hospitality industry can reopen their businesses, that a small portion of the latter ilk seem to view their stance as morally superior. And, as D-day for bars, restaurants and caf s has approached, the noise of those people s sermons has been cranked up by several notches. What began as a subtle infusion of social media with personal views and opinions about the pubs reopening has turned into utter saturation desperate cries for people to behave responsibly and not run around causing complete havoc at pubs this weekend are permeating our feeds.It was easy enough to scroll past at first, but now this wholly unsolicited advice, passed down to pub-goers from the loftiness of some seriously questionable high horses, is difficult to escape on our screens. It s not that I don t understand the sentiment. A second wave is a clear possibility and regional lockdowns have already begun. The virus has not just dissolved into thin air and however much the government downplay the daily rates of infection and ever-growing numbers of those we ve lost to it, it remains a risk to our collective health. Related... Midnight Haircuts And Weddings: Lockdown Restrictions Ease In England 4 Things On My Mind Before We Head To The Pub This Weekend Why Super Saturday And Covid Masks Are A Troubling Blend For Anti-Violence Charities Of course people should act respectfully and follow the new etiquette for the sake of nervous and apprehensive staff as well as other customers. But preaching on social media, shouting into that digital void, isn t going to change anyone s behaviour this weekend. Sorry. As much as social media can be powerful in catalysing action or spreading insight, it falls pretty flat when it comes to offering unwelcome and condescending advice . So, beseeching this weekend s pub-goers to act as grown-up, cognisant human beings, however genuine and passionate the sentiment, is useless. Not to mention desperately annoying. Instead, these lectures serve only to patronise and even demonise those who have been looking forward to enjoying a pint among some much-needed company. I ve noticed that most of these two-line homilies concern pubs and, as far as I can see, no one is aiming their cautions at those with table bookings at high-end restaurants, where there s just as much alcohol on offer and the same opportunity to breach the new guidelines. Many people have been isolated for the last three months and are craving the human interaction that happens at their beloved pub. They shouldn t be made to feel morally inferior and irresponsible. If it s not safe to return to pubs, the government should be the target of these verbal petitions, not the people who plan to simply make use of the new freedom they ve been afforded. By tapering their support and encouraging the hospitality industry to resume service, they are effectively washing their hands of responsibility and preemptively placing the blame of any future outbreaks of Covid-19 on our individual shoulders. Those who are taking it upon themselves to preach to others are becoming a part of this worrying rhetoric and playing right into the hands of those who wish to pass on the liability. I don t have plans to visit a pub this weekend, but not because of the disrespectful behaviour everyone seems to be predicting, but because I ve promised myself to take my personal emergence from lockdown easy, for the sake of my own peace of mind. This doesn t mean that those planning to go out are less responsible than me; perhaps they just adapt more quickly or aren t as heart-thuddingly anxious. Or at least weren t until they saw their sermon-riddled, shame-promoting news feeds. Jessica Carter is a freelance journalist and editor.


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