The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way that businesses operate. For some of us, especially those of us who are desk jockeys and do a lot of our work on computers and on the phone, a transition to working from home has not been a big stretch. My business is “officially” open now from 9am-noon on weekdays. We typically get mail and other deliveries late in the morning. Depending on what is going on, I can either stay in the office in the afternoon or work from home. My office computer setup is still better than my home setup, but that could be changed without much effort. My business partner has been working from home for the past several years.
Businesses that depend on walk-in traffic, such as retail establishments, barber shops, and restaurants, have had to make some significant adjustments. Social distancing and requiring staff and customers to wear masks have been the most important changes. Restaurants are also limited in the number of diners they can serve indoors.
Bars have been particularly hard hit. The governor’s initial emergency order shut them down except for take out. That rule was loosened for a few weeks, allowing them to serve inside so long as the number of individuals was kept down to 50% capacity. As the number of COVID-19 cases exploded, the bars were once again restricted to take out only.
I’ve never been much interested in alcoholic beverages. Even in college back in the 70’s, I was typically one of the designated drivers when a fraternity party was hosted off-campus. It is not so much a matter of being opposed to alcohol as simply not liking the taste. My most vivid memory of drinking an alcoholic beverage dates back to 1977 when I tried some of the local beverage while visiting the Soviet Union. The vodka tasted like rubbing alcohol smells. One serving was all it took for me to decide that vodka wasn’t for me.
As a result of my personal tastes, I have never been a regular at any of our local bars. I must admit to enjoying some of the carbonated teas that Cotee River Brewing produces and I actually purchased a Christmas present for my then five year old grandson at Pete’s Grand Central. My grandson loves the vintage electric train I bought for him. Ordinance One has been a great location (pre-COVID) for Talk About Town events and to enjoy a glimpse of our history in the old map that the firemen used when responding to emergency calls back in the day.
All that being said, I am concerned that the current shutdown order for bars is very likely going to be fatal to at least some of them unless steps are taken to encourage their take out business. My colleagues on city council and I discussed the problem at Tuesday night’s meeting. We will be closing Railroad Square to cars and trucks on Friday and Saturday evenings. Please come downtown and pickup the beverage of your choice from the establishment of your choice. We ask that you properly social distance when you do so and don’t linger on their premises once you’ve made your purchase. If you want to say “Hi” to your friends, do it in Railroad Square and maintain a safe social distance. In any event, wear a mask while you are out and about, visiting local businesses. It is required by both Pasco County and the City of New Port Richey. More important, it is an easy way to show that you respect others.
Rob Marlowe, Mayor