Nina Janowsky Snegg: Indoor dining during the COVID-19 crisis
As our country’s COVID-19 death toll is rising fast, including in Nevada County, a coalition of a dozen local restaurants, spearheaded by the owners of Friar Tucks, prepares to file a federal lawsuit against the state and local government to win the right to open their restaurants for indoor dining.
“The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report in September that found that adults who tested positive for COVID-19 were two times more likely to have eaten out at a restaurant in the two weeks before they got sick … Any dining setting where people are in close contact with each other without masks presents risks.”
Without mask-wearing mandates, COVID-19 can more easily spread to hard-working chefs, waiters and servers, many who often have no choice but to go to work. And, the people who come to dine out must believe they are immune to the virus, or else they could care less if they get sick or infect others, including family members, friends, people with compromised immune systems and random people who they may come in contact with.
Furthermore, Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital is a small hospital. It could easily get to a point of becoming overwhelmed and not able to handle the rising number of cases that require hospitalization.
Maybe it is time to think outside the box between now and when there is an effective vaccine and other treatments available. President-elect Joe Biden has suggested that federal money be given to businesses so they can pay their staff and their rent until they can open up again. And, what about a massive community-backed effort to set up a GoFundMe to raise money for the restaurants to help tide them over.
We could also encourage more restaurants to offer carry out, as opposed to opening up, and everyone in the community who enjoys eating out could commit to ordering out at least one or two times a week (or more) to support the restaurants. Or, consider giving the gift of a meal from one of your favorite restaurants to friends, family, or someone you know in need. Some of the restaurants currently providing carry out will even deliver.
I understand the dire straits that restaurants are in, but being patient could make the difference between our county recovering quickly and heading into a downward spiral that could take years to undo.
I beseech restaurant owners and diners alike to be patient just a little while longer and do your part to help curtail the spread of COVID-19. If we all cooperate, including faithfully wearing masks when in public, washing your hands and limiting or postponing gatherings, and above all, taking the pandemic here in Nevada County seriously, in time, restaurants could safely reopen. To open prematurely to inside dining seems guaranteed to spread the virus.
We are a relatively small community that could set the example for turning the tide on this deadly virus. Pretending it doesn’t exist means allowing it to continue to surge, which will be disastrous for our community.
Nina Janowsky Snegg lives in Nevada City.
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