OPINION | The Boot reopening: Recipe for disaster

OPINION+%7C+The+Boot+reopening%3A+Recipe+for+disaster

Daisy Rymer | Production Manager

Lily Lazarus, Views Editor

The Boot Bar and Grill remains a hallmark of the Tulane student experience. For returning students, memories of happy hour and the buzzing social ambiance were greatly missed after being sent home last March. For incoming freshmen, The Boot stands as a memorial of newfound independence and the beginning of an incredible college experience. Yet, though seemingly a joyous occasion, The Boot’s reopening ultimately marks the beginning of the end.

Bars are one of the primary hubs of coronavirus outbreaks in Louisiana and the rest of the U.S. The Boot is no exception, acting as an ideal petri dish for the virus. Public health officials around the country have warned against the risks of indoor and outdoor dining and drinking and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends food service remain primarily through drive-through, delivery, take-out, and curb-side pick up. 

According to the CDC, the protocol The Boot has advertised is the second riskiest form of reopening. In truth, The Boot can easily be classified as the highest risk environment. The Boot is providing both indoor and outdoor services with decreased seating capacity to foster social distancing. On top of that, they are allowing parties of up to six people and provide no way of verifying that customers are not experiencing symptoms. 

This is a major shift from the known ambiance of the establishment, and it is impossible to expect The Boot to maintain 6 feet between tables at all times, enforce proper mask-wearing, and tend to the crowds waiting to come into the bar.  

The danger of The Boot’s reopening is not just a question of social distancing practices. The physical act of drinking is incompatible with wearing a mask, which helps prevent the transmission of droplets. 

This is coupled with the reality that regardless of the distancing of tables, bar-goers sit in groups with individuals who may have been exposed or are asymptomatic, another catalyst for infection. These factors are exacerbated by the need to speak loudly, which spreads 10 times more particles than coughing, and the presence of alcohol which may impede judgment and rule-following. 

The risk of contagion at bars is inevitable, as was demonstrated when bars reopened earlier in the summer only to be subsequently closed after spiking a drastic rise in cases. When Louisiana attempted to reopen bars in July, more than 400 cases were reported to have stemmed from bars. Now, Louisiana has reached its second wave of coronavirus infections and the number of positive cases remains synonymous with those in July. 

This has only worsened as New Orleans moved to Stage 2 of reopening and will continue as many schools begin to welcome students. 

The fact of the matter is that while young people, like much of the student body, feel impervious to the virus, they are possibly the biggest threat to the New Orleans population and the smaller Tulane community. This spring, the New Orleans area had the highest coronavirus death rate in the country. 

While these numbers may not apply to Tulane students, they are incredibly important to Tulane’s employees and faculty members who may be at a higher risk of serious medical complications. Regardless, Tulane students are consistently testing positive for the coronavirus, and around the country, more young people are contracting the virus. This same demographic is that of bargoers. 

Upperclassmen may think that their off-campus residences protect them from spreading or contracting the virus. In reality, they are no safer going to The Boot and returning home to their housemates than they would be returning back to a dorm.

Incoming freshmen who looked forward to their newfound independence must also come to terms with the sacrifices of adulthood in the time of the coronavirus. 

While returning to campus is often garnished with the temptation of enjoying time at The Boot, this activity is a catalyst for not only infection and death but also Tulane’s closing. Despite the administration flouting threats of suspension or probation for hosting gatherings, the crowds at The Boot depict the same high-risk behavior put under a new name. In these unprecedented times, all Tulane students need to refrain from prioritizing partying should they wish to experience college and Mardi Gras in the coming spring semester.