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The Disturbing New Bar Trend That's Popping Up

Lockdown's not over, but bars are prematurely acting as if it is.
bar with tap beer at humboldt haus chicago illinois

The nearly nationwide coronavirus lockdown is starting to end in a number of states. While there are a few places across the country where bars and taverns have opened up, it's still nearly impossible to belly up to the bar and order your favorite drink, or do a number of your favorite bar past-times. And yet, some bars are deciding to circumvent White House guidelines by serving booze on the down low.

Yes, the coronavirus pandemic has brought back the era of speakeasies. Just like prohibition times from roughly a century ago, bars are secretly operating per usual across the country… and just like last time, they're getting caught.

Multiple reports have surfaced of bars in New York state that have had their liquor licenses temporarily suspended for selling alcohol indoors, which is in direct violation of strict guidelines put forth by Governor Andrew Cuomo. Regional New York outlet New York Upstate reports 14 total businesses are now unable to serve alcohol after getting busted for the indoor service of wine, beer and/or spirits.

NYUP reports:

In each case investigators found the bars serving people alcoholic drinks inside. That violates the March 16 order, which has allowed bars and restaurants to sell alcohol to go for takeout or delivery, but not on-premises.

The bars had each received warnings not to operate illegally, according to the State Liquor Authority. Each case followed complaints about illegal operation reported to law enforcement agencies.

The suspensions mean the bars cannot sell alcohol at all, not even for takeout. The suspensions can be appealed. The suspensions were ordered Wednesday during an emergency remote meeting of the SLA board held online.

It's not just in the nether regions of upstate New York where this is happening. A swanky night club in Manhattan's Lower East Side called Omar's La Boîte has reportedly been hosting secret parties, according to the New York Post. "Omar's is acting like they're above the law … like they're the 21 Club with their wine cellar," a source told The Post in reference to the infamous former NYC speakeasy. "But this isn't Prohibition, this is a pandemic."

Right now, there are only a handful of examples of bars that are secretly operating on the down-low, but then again, we don't know … what we don't know. You can only imagine that this is just the visible part of the secret bar iceberg, with many outlets continuing to fly under the radar.

It's fair to say that every reasonable person wants the lockdown to end in a safe and reasonable manner. But, there's a lot of research from both medical and public health experts behind the policy of avoiding poorly ventilated and crowded locations such as bars. So even though a secret speakeasy sounds kinda fun and mysterious, do yourself a favor and stay away. And make sure to avoid these habits as your city reopens, too.

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