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The end of club culture in Boston?

Boston Restaurant Talk considers how the governor's current re-opening plan could mean clubs - and bars not attached to restaurants - might not be allowed to open until sometime in 2021, or even later, because they're in "phase 4," which requires development of a vaccine or treatments that doctors, as opposed to certain politicians, declare effective. How long can clubs hold out?

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Will this mean the end to like every other dive bar in Boston?? I don’t get how dives haven’t succumbed to gentrification in other cities like NYC and SF, but they constantly close up shop in Boston.

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Voting closed 15

There's a fair number of dives that have gone by the wayside in NY & SF as well

The ones that survive here- seem to have changed their game up- was blown away when I saw the DTX Foleys had wall-to-wall TV's a few years back- recall back to days about 20-25 years ago when they only had a 19" TV w/ no cable- asked bartender to put TV on Ch. 38 for Bruins game once- he told me if I wanted to watch the game I should have stayed home

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Voting closed 13

NYC and SF don't have nearly as extreme a situation with artificial scarcity of liquor licenses, it's that simple.

Only places that are gonna survive are the ones with outdoor seating and/or notably good food. Guessing my neighborhood dive bar (Jeannie Johnston) is done for. Also worried about the Midway...

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Voting closed 16

Take the COVID out of the situation and simply look at the restrictions.

What does it say about the efficacy of the restrictions if a bar can simply get a food truck or sell pretzels and get moved from phase 4 to phase 2?

If these establishments can not open till 2021 then I suspect we will see a number of them simply close and sell their liquor license; rather than have to pay rent.

Of course people will not get employed, property owners will lose out on income and not have enough money to put back into the property, the state will lose out of taxes (income and property).

So maybe selling pretzels is the best way forward for everyone involved.

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Voting closed 32

Owners (real estate) will still have to pay taxes, you think the municipalities will let that one go?
Liquor license values will go through the floor...'Hey, I have a piece of paper for sale. No good till we find a vaccine.'
A bunch, and I mean a pisspot full of used equipment hits the restaurant resalers. That goes through the floor.
Remember years ago? Newspapers full of auctions for real estate, equipment, whatever? Keeping them closed will lead to that.

Bankruptcies, depression, all that goes with it. Your life savings down the shitter. Not a pretty sight. 2/3 of the deaths in the Commonwealth are from people in nursing homes. So, maybe protect, 'shelter in place' the vulnerable and open up the rest of the city.

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Voting closed 33

are you willing to sacrifice in order to reopen the city's bars and nightclubs ahead of schedule? Which of your family members over 65 would you like to volunteer as tribute to protect your 401(K)?

I'm sick of this abstract "but it's about the ECONOMY" bullshit. Ignoring expertise is going to get a whole lot of people killed. You're proposing we ignore epidemiologists and reopen everything, so tell us what price you personally are willing to pay.

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Voting closed 34

I have an aunt and uncle in Newton in their late 70s. I'm not worried about them getting COVID-19 as a result of clubs reopening. Why? Because a 21-year old from Brockton isn't going to be in proximity to them, let alone in their home, ever.

"Protecting the elderly" is a wonderful conceit. It's also a completely asinine reason to restrict bar and nightclub trade.

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Voting closed 43

communicable diseases work. Your elderly relatives don't ever have to come into direct contact with a club-goer to eventually get a virus that originated from said club-goer. The measure is designed to prevent large groups from congregating in close quarters indoors for extended periods, a scenario proven to spread the virus quickly. With a vaccine, or broader testing, contact tracing and selective quarantining, mass gatherings like that wouldn't be automatic hot-spot generators, but we have few to none of those protections in place.

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Voting closed 42

My aunt and uncle are still several degrees removed from a nightclub clientele.

I'll let them speak for themselves on how afraid they are of getting COVID-19, but I'll tell you on the record that I'm not afraid enough of getting it to deny to anyone the joy that one might derive from a nightclub visit.

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How do you know that your hypothetical nightclub goer doesn’t work in Newton in an establishment your aunt and uncle frequent?

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Voting closed 1

I think "joy" might be a stretch.
Ask the guy in Florida who wasn't afraid of getting it then was crying like a baby because he thought he was going to die.
So if you want to drop so E just going in your parent's basement dime the lights and crank some house music.

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Voting closed 2

Unless they are living in doomsday bunkers with canned food they purchased long before Corona, they probably go to the grocery store or other places everyone else goes to. Club kids never go to the store? Or were around someone who went to the store and got close to your aunt and uncle? How can you be sure? And why does one cherry-picked example prove the rule? All sorts of seniors have different lives and interact with different people. Not to mention I used to know people who worked in old folks homes. They are usually low paid kids who wouldn't stay away from a club or packed bar when they get off work no matter how much you told them.

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i guess cap-verdeans dont deserve to live to be 70 year olds like newton residents.

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Voting closed 12

We should be talking about individual risk tolerance. Just because a restaurant or bar opens does not mean I have to go. Just as some people did not protest because of health considerations, people could make the judgement not to go to restaurants for the same reason.

Some healthcare workers have reported quarantining from their family while on duty and for two weeks after, the same should be done for nursing home workers as well.

Personally my family's risk tolerance is low so we have been ordering as much food online as possible as to not go out. I really dont care if restaurants or bars open because it does not impact my immediate circle.

One sized fits all blanket regulations do not work for all aspects of a robust and complex society. Some nuance and thought need to be used to make sure we all stay safe, AND have some prospect of a livable future.

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Voting closed 21

The measures are designed in part to protect workers, too.

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Voting closed 28

And the people who go grocery shopping at the same time as workers and their families. And the people who ride the T with them. And the city full of people who live next to them, breathing on each other every minute of the day.

We JUST got through literally months of shutting everything down so that we wouldn't lose a million+ Americans to the virus, and y'all want to act like the threat is completely gone. You're going to get a whole lot of people killed, and you're going to trigger a second wave of this thing that'll have us all shut down and quarantined through Thanksgiving.

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Voting closed 29

Why do you (or the State House) feel to know best what workers want? Have the workers asked for protection?

Is a person better off not working without an income to feed their families, pay for healthcare, gas, rent, etc?

People need to work to live. If they choose to go back to work, let them. If your argument is that many have no choice but to work in public facing businesses thus greater threat to catching COVID, how is that worse then not working at all?

Where is the food going to come from? Food banks, private donations? Great, who is going to pay for that long term, and with what income?

If a person does not want to go back to work due to health reasons, no one is forcing them. At least with the business open they have the ability to make that choice.

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based on the advice of public health officials: scientists and medical professionals trained in epidemiology, virology and immunology.

What, did you imagine Baker is just dreaming this up on his own? Have you ever listened to one if his briefings? There have been about a hundred of them, and he repeats the policy rationale at practically every one. Keep up.

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Voting closed 23

...to bankruptcy, divorce, depression? Have you ever owned a business?

Keep your grandmother out of the gin mills.

'Ignoring expertise is going to get a whole lot of people killed. You're proposing we ignore epidemiologists and reopen everything, so tell us what price you personally are willing to pay.'

Bullshit. I propose we listen to the scientists. It's all about science, right?

https://www.universalhub.com/comment/788146#comment-788146

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/planning-scenarios.html

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Voting closed 31

also, if you are in a car accident (airbags deploy -- punctured lung). carney hospital (or wherever) already using all their rebreathers for covid patients, who makes the choice which patient gets taken off ?

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The economy is hardly an abstraction.

On a personal level, years ago, I watched a close family member who couldn't find work spiral into depression and struggle with an addiction that eventually killed him. I am amazed how cavalier people are about "the economy," as if it's a bunch of guys dressed like the Monopoly Man smoking big cigars, swilling brandy, and cackling while they read the ticker tape. A person has to have it pretty good in order to think of the economy as a mere abstraction with which he isn't directly involved. Put another way, you may not be interested in the economy, but the economy is sure interested in you.

As to putting lives on the line, our society risks/sacrifices lives for economic gain all the time. To some extent, the current political moment reflects a growing understanding that our nation was (wrongly) founded on it. The big difference is that now, instead of the life in question being some Army PFC getting shot at in the desert to make sure that our oil supply isn't disrupted, it's grandma. A lot of people are either being really selective about their outrage or just really naive.

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hardly with a cavalier attitude about the economic consequences. I have siblings and other close relatives (including a pregnant niece) and many friends who have lost their jobs and health insurance, are at risk of losing their homes. There are about 10,000 local restaurant industry people I love and admire whose futures are in grave doubt, with many likely to see their employers go out of business. It's not an abstraction to me.

I still think Baker is making the best of the no-win situation that the botched Federal pandemic response has put us in. Rushing to re-open has already generated a spike in cases in the red states that went there, and doing so here seems likely to push us back to April levels of closedness, with a resulting even slower and more costly recovery. The increased exposure of the protests will almost certainly worsen case rates in a couple of weeks.

So while this pace is extremely painful and destructive for a lot of people I love, I still believe in the current cautious approach. I don't see the wisdom of jumping ahead a step only to be shoved back two, which recent evidence suggests would be inevitable.

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The real problem is we have a culture which has now shifted from respecting true expertise and skills as in Joe the Plumber's ability to fix a clogged drain -- to presumed, assumed or influenced expertise and skills.

Specifically, there are quite a few people who know a small amount about a topic -- and can directly or indirectly plug that incomplete knowledge into a "Computer Model" and turn the crank massively

Then they or their beneficiaries, or their disciples can and do make authoritative sounding pronouncements about their or Their interpretation of the outputs of the models.

Unfortunately, there is one expression which encapsulates this but is not well known to the public: GIGO which is computerese for Garbage In = Garbage Out.

However, most of these situations are actually worse than GIGO -- because in many cases its not just the input which is poorly characterized -- its the actual model itself. Thus even good data in might lead to garbage out if the coefficients in the various places inside the model are poorly characterized.

We see this daily in the so-called Futurecast on the TV weather segment. We also see it in a more heavy-duty manner whenever a Tropical System makes the news and we get bombarded by the Spaghetti Plots attempting to predict the motion of the center of the Tropical System and the evolution of its associated Wind Field. In both cases the input is reasonably characterized [local and satellite meteorological data] but the system's inherent complexity makes the model very sensitive to errors -- the so-called "Butterfly Effect" of the late Prof. Edward Lorenz of MIT*1

In the case of the COVID-19 -- it's even worse -- not only is the input of wildly varying quality [principally depending on where the information originated] -- but the model itself is constantly being revised -- mostly by throwing another strand of "spaghetti" onto the epidemiological wall

What we do know about the SARS-Cov-2 virus from actual experiments -- is that it doesn't do well in warm, humid air -- particularly air with a lot of Sunlight -- aka the Great Outdoors in our summer.

So there are two things which can be done immediately -- phases 2,3,4 [alpha]

  1. Take all the restrictions off normal outdoor behavior -- i.e. at civic separations and beyond [just beyond the easy sharing of bodily secretions in public] unless you are with your significant other
  2. Make indoors looks and feel as much as outdoors as possible:
    1. i.e. for the summer open the window shades and the windows and have lots of fans
    2. and for the winter buy lots of UV lamps and have lots of fans

*1

Edward Lorenz, father of chaos theory and ... - MIT News
news.mit.edu/2008/obit-lorenz-0416
Apr 16, 2008 · Edward Lorenz, an MIT meteorologist who tried to explain why it is so hard to make good weather forecasts and wound up unleashing a scientific revolution called chaos theory, died April 16 of cancer at his home in Cambridge. He was 90. A professor at MIT, Lorenz was the first to recognize what is now called chaotic behavior in the mathematical modeling of weather systems.

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Yes I understand what you are saying but does anyone account for the employees in this industry or owners? How does sitting at a bar eating food any different from sitting at a bar and just drinking? I’m sorry malls are all open do you think they have someone spraying down every corner or every hanger once someone touches it? How is it any different from the laser tag places and trampoline places? You think those places are going to be covid free ALL the time! It makes no difference than a nightclub! We have been completely singled out! With NO relief. Government doesn’t wanna push the extra $600 for ppl unemployed because they say people don’t wanna go to work! Well maybe just maybe they should reopen the industry so that we CAN go back to work! And you said how many people are u willing to risk! If your that scared DONT go out to those places! Ppl/kids are have house parties left and right!

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Voting closed 0

I also understand what the state is trying to do. Bars and nightclubs, by definition, make social distancing possible. There's no world where Biddy Early's reopens with everyone wearing masks and staying six feet apart from each other on a Friday night. It makes sense not to cram people into a bar when there's still no vaccine, because a single carrier could infect hundreds of people and restart the pandemic. Places that serve food don't get a blanket exemption, though--if you want to reopen in Phase 2 or 3, you need to show how you're planning to sterilize your restaurant and space your tables far enough apart to meet the CDC regs. Adding hot pretzels to your menu doesn't magically solve all these problems for you.

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Voting closed 18

Serving food *adds* risk. It should not be a loophole.

If the dangerous activity is standing close to other people drinking, that shouldn't be allowed even if there also is food service.

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Voting closed 12

So does being inebriated in a packed bar. And it's easier to control patrons seated at a table than the free for all in a club or dive bar.

Luckily most bars in Boston seem to be Pubs and do have food options / small kitchens. Those that don't, hopefully something reasonable can be worked out.

But like every other slim margin business, it might not work when you're serving 50%-70% you clients. The city/state/feds should be doing more to help with the bills until the crisis is over.

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Voting closed 5

In the city of Boston you must serve food to have a liquor license. There are a handful of older places that are grandfathered in that don’t serve food. Hopefully that spares lot local spots. I’m not sure how it will go in the rest of the state.

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Voting closed 3

The city prefers to have food served with alcohol, but the licensing board has issued licenses to bars that want to just serve booze.

In the past few years, this came up several times when bars that technically had food licenses were cited by the licensing cops for not actually serving food, and had to go before the board, which typically would tell them they could either add food (even in the form of a microwave to heat up sandwiches or one of those rotating hot-dog things) or apply to have the food requirement lifted from their licenses.

In 2015, for example, Jacques in Bay Village got one of these general on-premises licenses after they were cited for not making food available to patrons.

Earlier in the pandemic, meanwhile, the city lifted a requirement that restaurants have to serve food to patrons in outdoor seating areas.

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Voting closed 17

This is insane... adults can't make adult decisions? And what are they going to do, forcefully vaccinate people?

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...when a vaccine becomes available, don't be surprised if you can't just march around wherever you want if you refuse to be vaccinated.

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Maybe 'asymptomatic' people might not really be big spreaders. Here's a CDC study, It's from May, so the numbers are a couple of weeks old, but it gives you an idea of what the almost latest findings are.

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/planning-scenarios.html

From an article about it, 'The CDC does caution that the numbers are likely to change with new data, but considering we’ve gone from 3.4 percent to 2.0 percent to now 0.26 percent. The more data we get, the lower the numbers get.'

So, will the politicians listen to the scientists?

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Voting closed 14

I haven't had a chance to read through that all the way, but it looks like that is just a document for planning using different possible scenarios. I didn't see anything in it that said asymptomatic people are less likely to spread the disease. The closest I saw was the chart at the end listing outcomes if asymptomatic people are half as likely to spread.

Also, some of the scenarios show possible 4% fatality rates. Am I missing something?

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Voting closed 4

This isn’t the first pandemic. Life moved on and people came together in the others, no need to give up now.

Waiting for a vaccine that may never appear does not make sense. We don’t know what the next few weeks or months will show.

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Voting closed 10

Phase 4 seems a bit unrealistic.

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Voting closed 14

It would be fun for someone to do an informal survey of bars that are actually open but only the back door is unlocked.

I've heard there are a few in Revere already operating as such.

Also, you can't tell me through all of the insanity of the past few weeks that a few police oriented lemonade stands are quietly open with the blinds pulled down.

There may be a new Boston, but there still is a lot of Old Boston out there.

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Voting closed 12

Not one. None. Infinity divided by zero.

I do know a guy that gives away free beer from his basement and there's a couple of chairs in the backyard. Oh, and a coffee can.

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Voting closed 3

Nothing crazy, but I want a beer and to be able to stand on a sidewalk and drink it. I want to socialize with friends with precautions.

I drank outside in NW CT last week. Everything was fine. 8 miles to the north of where I was, it is still John Barleycorn Must Die phase of life.

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Voting closed 15

are strip clubs also considered phase 4?

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Voting closed 4

I'm a 60+ male who goes to anywhere from 5 to 10 shows at various clubs every month. This is one of the reasons I like living in Boston. If I have to cover my face to go to a show, then I'll freaking do it! This part of the city culture can't simply be told to wait longer. I'm not a politician or a scientist, but there has to be a compromise somehow. We have Berklee and the Boston Conservatory, the Symphony, Emerson College, several venerable theaters, the culture can't simply end as your headline implies. If it does, or if it takes more than two years to revive and there are no venues for performers, people like me will have to make some hard decisions on whether to stay here or not.

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Voting closed 12

As another 60+ male I am glad I was around in the glorious heyday of the local music scene from 1976-1982. For half of which the drinking age was 18. Willie Loco, Real Kids, Mickey Clean, Foxpass...then a bit later Neighborhoods, Outlets...nothing has ever equaled it since and I don't personally care if I ever set foot in one of those awful, dingy places again. They have become uninspiring. But for those who want to, I feel bad for them if it all ends, feeble though it now is.

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Let's be honest: the city of Boston has at best never cared about the non-institutional arts like small-venue live music, and at worst has been actively hostile for years. From banning all-ages shows in buildings where alcohol is present, to issuing noise citations to clubs that have been there for years because some uptight NIMBYs moved in upstairs, to quite literally not having a single person at City Hall coordinating with independent venues (Kara Elliott-Ortega is probably the closest facsimile), the New Boston would like nothing more than for all the clubs to close so they can be replaced by banks and Sweetgreens.

New Boston tolerates nothing that might hurt property values.

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Voting closed 3

Because Walsh and Baker don't care to deal with the wrath of bitch cops crying about the indignity of actually having to perform their notional function of protecting a peaceful civilian from a violent civilian when the firearms inevitably come out at 2:00.

They want them gone. A sickness is a convenient excuse. I stopped being afraid of COVID-19 weeks, even months, ago. What citizen asked for a nightclub to be bankrupted by the state?

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Voting closed 11

I found myself nodding along with you a couple of times last month, but I guess I forgot Charlie Pierce's five-minute rule for libertarians.

People aren't afraid of COVID. We respect it, because it will kill a shit-ton of people if we let it run unchecked, but people aren't afraid of it, any more than people wearing safety goggles are afraid of a bandsaw. And for damn sure, no one is using a goddamn plague as an "excuse" to take your guns/shutter your businesses/whatever-the-hell-else Alex Jones bullshit you're implying here.

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Voting closed 34

No one is using COVID as an excuse to shutter businesses. They're using the reticence of cops as an excuse to shutter businesses. What did I say?

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Hope you'restill wearinga mask.

Be afraid. Be very afraid. COVID-19's not done.

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I put it on only when entering buildings and areas which have posted signs explicitly asking me to do so.

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So does Club Cafe just have to swing their glass doors open between the restaurant and the nightclub and declare the whole place a restaurant to re-open?

Some people have not been to Club Cafe. From left to right it starts off as a restaurant, then lounge area, then a bar area and then dance area. The dance area and bar area if stand alone would not be allowed. I understand the distinction the State is making but it seems to me like places like Club Cafe will then be able to start operations because of that. Even though their dancefloor is no different from one down the street that is stand alone.

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This is true, but the implication that they'd be allowed to host dance parties in the dance area is false. They'd be allowed to put socially-distanced tables in there for food service (as long as they stay at or below the reduced occupancy limit) or keep it empty.

This is why the "just sell pretzels" thing isn't quite the loophole some posted here suggest. Yes, O'Brien's could probably literally unlock the front door and allow people inside sooner if they start selling pretzels, but they'd only be allowed to have ~20 people in at a time (25% of max. occupancy) and would not be able to host rock shows. Could O'Brien's break even by hosting acoustic acts and selling pretzels to a dozen people a day? Especially if they need to close by 9pm to respect the ongoing suggested curfew? Probably not.

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Voting closed 1

This is a nation-wide (really world-wide) problem right now. The brand new National Independent Venue Association is lobbying for federal support, and makes a very compelling case that the problem is of a scale that simply cannot be solved by local policies.

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5e91157c96fe495a4baf48f2/t/5edef4...

Among the strongest points:

  • Venue costs (taxes, utilities, insurance) are fixed, so reopening at less than 100% capacity is not viable
  • Venues that get significant business from touring artists will likely not see that resume until the entire country is back, because many tours can't make a profit if they're restricted to certain regions so they'll simply not happen
  • Venues cannot easily or quickly pivot to new business models, like selling food, and do not have alternative work to offer their employees
  • Venues were among the first places to shut down and will be among the last to reopen, for very valid public health reasons, and the sheer duration of this impact will outlast many of the temporary support programs put in place recently like PPP and extended unemployment

This doesn't mean Boston or Massachusetts shouldn't take what actions they can to help, but it's a pretty dire picture without federal support that doesn't seem likely to come.

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Changes about every decade. Anyone else go to "The Loft" in Back Bay back in the day?

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