So the pubs have re-opened and our media is full of images of rowdy crowds busy drinking and blithely ignoring social distancing recommendations. And “more sensible” people are reacting by claiming that it was too soon to re-open pubs.
Well, … perhaps.
It was always inevitable that re-opening the pubs was going to be met with a bit of a major drinking session, but was it really as bad as it was portrayed? Whilst I do not have figures (and this anecdote only applies to one of many locations), I got the impression that Saturday night was much quieter than you might expect.
I live on a busy road that whilst does not have many drinking establishments (four plus four licensed restaurants), is often used by city centre drinkers on their way home. Saturday nights are usually quite lively, and special occasion Saturday nights can be quite rowdy. And this Saturday night didn’t seem as busy as an ordinary Saturday night.
What we do not see are the pictures of less controversial pub gatherings where social distancing is observed. Whilst the daft went out in droves on Saturday night, many people did not go out.
There are many different kinds of pubs – to give just two examples, there are the city centre “party pubs” and there are the quiet country pubs with a beer garden. And yes a pub can be more than one kind at different times.
Crowding into a busy city centre pub with lots of people on their way to getting quite sloshed is a relatively high risk activity; having a quiet drink with one or two others in a beer garden is a relatively low risk activity.
It is quite possible – indeed likely – that the daft people who went out on Saturday night are already participating in relatively high risk activities. So opening the pubs may only be increasing the risk of more infections only slightly.
And given the other side of opening pubs – business survival, jobs for those who work in pubs, and the ability of us all to pop into a quiet pub at the end of a long walk (or similar), why not?