If you walked around Temple Bar last night, odds are it would have seemed like a somewhat normal night, other than maybe the sight of a couple of stag parties in white coveralls and masks and it being a little quiet for a Saturday.
In the middle of the worst global health scare in living memory, where social distancing is key to preventing the spread of coronavirus and self-isolation is the norm, a good few pubs were still open for business and appeared to be making a thriving business, too.
— Gareth Neary (@Tiananmens) March 14, 2020
Without even looking that hard, you could see that some of them had well passed the 100-people rule for indoor gathering. You could also assume that nobody was practicing cleaning measures or were carrying hand sanitiser on them.
In countries like Italy, France and South Korea, public areas like cafes, restaurants and bars have all closed because of the simple fact that coronavirus is spread during social contact and these places exist for that very purpose. It's crazy to think that the government - knowing far more of the stark figures and realities than the general public do - didn't specifically order pubs closed, when schools and colleges have had to do the same.
There are thousands of people in pubs across Ireland tonight. Those people are not thinking about social distancing. It’s an insanity. France and Spain are closing all their bars, cafes and restaurants as of right now. We have to #closethepubs.
— Conor Pope (@conor_pope) March 14, 2020
— CP (@Codie1Cory) March 15, 2020
It's only now, on a Sunday morning, that some pubs and bars are beginning to close up, and after public pressure to do so. For most of yesterday and that evening, #CloseThePubs and #ShutThePubs was the trending topic on Twitter locally here in Ireland.
The first pubs I’ll be back into when this nightmare is over are the ones who put public health first and closed. I know it’s tough. I’ve lost ALL my work for the next two months at least, and as a freelancer it’s beyond worrying. But #CloseThePubs
— Maïa Dunphy (@MaiaDunphy) March 14, 2020
My boyfriend, who is a barman, just made the very valid point that people going to pubs have a choice to go, the staff do not. Please stop risking lives because you want a pint. Grab a bag of cans instead if you must. #CloseThePubs #LockdownIreland
— FionaGrowsFood 🌿 (@FionaGrowsFood) March 14, 2020
People are organising watch parties of movies like 'Legally Blonde' in order to stave off boredom. Others are sharing advice on how to keep yourself occupied. All are pulling together to do what they can, yet pubs around large population areas were still open, accepting business and packing people in at a time when we're supposed to be kept apart to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
It's not as if these pubs are going to go anywhere any time soon, and the reality is that once coronavirus recedes and the pandemic is ended, things will go back to normal - pubs will reopen, restaurants will be busy again, but for now, these places need to close before this gets worse.
More to the point, when things go back to normal, do you really want to drink in and frequent a place that put its staff in harm's way and didn't give a grab enough about its clientele to do the decent thing and simply close its doors like it should have done in the first place?