Guest editorial: Believe in the dangers of COVID-19 or don’t, but please follow the public health order
It’s OK if you don’t believe in the reported dangers of COVID-19. It’s OK if you think this entire thing is blown completely out of proportion. It’s OK if you think we need to swing open the doors of the economy and rush in like a Black Friday sale on flat screen TVs. It’s OK if you think COVID-19 is caused by 5G towers and the illuminati and maybe Bill Gates. Or is it Beyoncé? It’s OK if you think this is really no big deal.
What’s not OK is willfully ignoring or defying a public health order.
As a 20-year veteran of the restaurant industry, I moved here 18 months ago from Memphis: the home of the Blues, barbecue and some really fantastic cocktails. It’s essentially a requirement in Memphis you imbibe on Beale. The rules around alcohol service in Utah were a culture shock when I first arrived, and personally — I think they’re ridiculous.
Here’s the thing, though. My thoughts and feelings on the liquor laws in Utah don’t matter.
Rules are rules.
You might think my main frustration as a restaurant operator was following the overwhelming and often unnecessary liquor laws in a restaurant. You might think that, but you would be wrong.
My main frustration as a restaurant operator was dealing with the guests who weren’t following the overwhelming and often unnecessary liquor laws in a restaurant. Too much of my time was spent diffusing and soothing angry patrons who didn’t appreciate the size of their wine pour, or why they couldn’t carry their own drink to their table, or why they had to have the “intention of dining,” or why they couldn’t have a beer at the bar while waiting for their to-go order. Without fail the response boiled town to: “But (insert any other restaurant here) does it!”
Lest the meaning of my letter get lost in the nuances of dining and drinking in Utah, let me say this: The stitches that bind the fabric of this town are woven by our individual actions.
We have an opportunity as business owners and operators and leaders and managers and employees and yes, patrons even, to build community while reopening our economy. We have a responsibility to not sacrifice the good of the whole for our own individual desires and expectations. We have the ability to say business interest and community interest are not mutually exclusive.
We have the power of and.
I understand if you believe this pandemic is not as dangerous as others may believe. I understand if you desire to make choices from that rationale.
Before you as an owner or operator or manager pick and choose which parts of the joint public health order to follow to benefit your establishment — think about the message you’re sending. Before you as a patron or guest insist upon favoritism because you feel entitled — think about the message you’re sending. Taking or demanding special treatment is the antithesis of community.
We are in this together. It’s not me or you. It’s not us or them.
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