I know New Zealand is not the United States. It's a low population-density, largely rural, isolated nation that faces a much greater threat from Orcs, dragons and evil wizards than Covid-19. So I'm not asking that this be us right now. Or maybe I am. I don't know. Maybe I'm just Both Siding this issue out of desperation. The last time I came into this kind of contact with a group of strangers in a bar was pre-gaming St. Patrick's Day in a suburban pub on March 14th, back in a more innocent time when Fauci was telling us masks don't do any good, all you have to do is wash your hands for 20 seconds and keep them away from your face and only the elderly and people with comorbidity were dying.
Then some of that was true. Then none of it. And everyone who had been working in Accounts Payable in January became an world class expert epidemiologist overnight and God have mercy on your soul if you dared suggest we'll be opening up businesses in the next five months. Or five years.
I live in Massachusetts, where they just made it legal again to sit down for a meal, but only if it's outside. And if your restaurant doesn't have pre-existing outdoor seating, you can apply for a permit. All you have to is fill out a five page document that is more complicated than the tax code where you specify what kind of barriers you're setting up between tables and how you're going to protect patrons from street traffic. I.e, are you putting out concrete planters with trees in them, iron posts connected by chains or the sorts of tank traps the Germans put on Omaha Beach? All so you can serve food at an affordable markup to the 20 or so customers they'll allow you to have on the sidewalk. While the people who make the rules are drawing full salaries and hold the threat of pulling your licenses if you don't play ball with them. I listened to a woman on the radio who owns a couple of places in the North End who said after she complained to The Boston Globe, the city cited her for trash violations for the first time in the 20 years she's been doing business. It was heartbreaking to listen to her voice tremble as she said it.
Sorry for the digression. At this point, all I ask is for a hope. A hope that someday this scene at midnight in Wellington, NZ will be happening here. That fun will be legal again. That the sheer joy of celebrating with a group of friends and like-minded strangers over a holiday, a ballgame, a comedy show, bad karaoke or just simple, blessed freedom will be part of our reality again. Not years from now. Not when the curve everyone suddenly stopped talking about once it got flat gets permanently down to zero deaths. And not once a vaccine is ready because it may never be.
At this point, I'll settle for sometime this summer. Or if not, just tell me now so I can start looking for property in New Zealand. If it means being able to go bars again, I'll live in a Hobbit hole.