Should unvaccinated people be going to bars and restaurants right now?

covid bars and restaurants delta variant should i go to a bar
Photo via Steven Miller/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

With the delta variant of COVID-19 spreading rapidly throughout the United States, unvaccinated people should avoid bars and restaurants for the time being, according to a health expert’s blunt assessment during a July 25 CNN interview.

“What I would say bluntly is: If you are not vaccinated right now in the United States, you should not go into a bar, you should probably not eat at a restaurant. You are at great risk of becoming infected,” Dr. Jonathan Reiner, professor of medicine and surgery at George Washington University, said in the interview.

As noted by CNN, Reiner’s warning regarding bars and restaurants comes amidst dramatic rises in COVID case numbers over the past week. Johns Hopkins University data shows that 48 states have seen at least a 10% rise in numbers over the last seven days, and 34 of those states reported a jump of more than 50%.

Despite ongoing efforts to vaccinate Americans, the CDC reports that less than half of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated. 49.1% Americans have been vaccinated as of July 25. When figuring in people who have received at least one dose of a two-dose vaccine, that number is a bit better, but still just 56.8%. Among those 12 and over — the population who can currently receive a vaccine — 57.4% percent are fully vaccinated, and 66.4% have received at least one dose.

Concern about how COVID-19, and particularly the delta variant, can spread has led one bar in Boston to create vaccination requirements. As MassLive reported, Jacques Cabaret will require proof of vaccination for patrons of his bar who wish to be maskless starting Aug. 6.

“As leaders in this community, we feel that it is our responsibility to keep our spaces as safe as possible for all patrons, performers and staff,” a representative for the nightclub wrote on Facebook. “Please help us to accomplish this goal and keep Jacques open and providing entertainment.”

In the Sacramento suburb of Woodland — perhaps ironically, the seat of Yolo County — one bar announced its recent closing on July 22 after alleging that two employees contracted COVID-19 after being exposed to unvaccinated customers.

The Thirsty Goat closed its doors, according to a Sacramento Bee report, after “two guests informed the staff that they had tested positive and hadn’t received a vaccine, and had not worn a mask during their visit to the bar. A manager and another worker were infected despite being fully vaccinated.”

The bar had only recently reopened, resuming operations for about a month before announcing that it would not allow customers to return until at least July 31.

Sources: CNN, CDC, MassLive, Sacramento Bee, Johns Hopkins

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