Beware of the Bar Scene

Bars are ordered to close in some states as data suggests they may be contributing to the rise in Covid-19 cases nationwide

Alexandra Sifferlin
Medium Coronavirus Blog
3 min readJun 26, 2020

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Credit: Photo by Rafa Elias / Getty Images

Cases of coronavirus are on the rise in the U.S. and data suggests that the reopenings are playing a part. Specifically, it appears bars — and possibly restaurants — have a role. On Friday, Texas and Florida ordered bars to close.

Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas has ordered all bars to close on Friday and is telling restaurants to reduce their capacity. Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation announced Friday that on-premises alcohol consumption is being suspended at bars.

As Kaiser Health News reports, health officials have identified bars as hotspots for recent outbreaks of Covid-19 cases in Louisiana, Florida, Wyoming, and Idaho. The Texas alcohol licensing board suspended the liquor licenses of 17 bars after undercover agents observed bars not following the rules and allowing overcrowding. Bars in Texas are supposed to limit indoor service to half their occupancy, keep tables to 10 people or fewer, and enforce six feet of distance between groups of people.

You can see what some of these packed bars looked like here:

Bars raise concerns for several reasons. Drinking may lead to people letting their guards down and becoming lax about their own distancing and hygiene. Being indoors with crowds is of high concern for easier spread of the virus, and the fact that many bars play loud music means people may be talking over each other, singing, or yelling. It’s also not possible, or at least very difficult, to drink while wearing a mask. When South Korea began to reopen, early clusters of new cases were tied to nightclubs, which had to be closed.

“People almost don’t want to social-distance if they go to the bar,” Amesh Adalja, MD, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security, told Kaiser Health News. “They’re going to be drinking alcohol, which is a…

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Alexandra Sifferlin
Medium Coronavirus Blog

Health and science journalist. Former editor of Medium’s Covid-19 Blog and deputy editor at Elemental. TIME Magazine writer before that