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Wisconsin Bars Open, Health Concerns Do Not Register With Drinkers

May 16, 2020

It was the side of Wisconsin that many in our state would rather not see broadcast to the whole nation.  That embarrassing part of our state where some citizens publically show their deep need to saddle up to a bar for a drink.  Within an hour of the reckless and judicially unmoored ruling by the Wisconsin State Supreme Court drinkers were welded to a barstool and sloshing back beverages.  As news reports made clear such scenes were public from Platteville to Port Washington.

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Jack Montemagni, 88, laughs with a fellow bar patron after the two shared a hug at Papa’s Blue Spruce Resort pub, May 14, 2020 in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. (Armando L. Sanchez / Chicago Tribune)

There is no way for me to make sense of the actions and behavior of this side of our state.  In the face of medical data and professional advice from experts to social distance, wear masks, and take caution the scenes from state bars scream out as just bizarre.

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Owner Michael Mattson toasts the re-opening of the Friends and Neighbors bar in Appleton, Wis. (William Glasheen/USA Today Network via Reuters)

The lack of local restrictions in many parts of the state underscored why the reckless behavior at bars was soon so prevalent.  The quote that stood out to me from this absurd week in Wisconsin came from Kristine Hillmer, president of the Wisconsin Restaurant Association.  She sent out ‘guidance’ to her group’s 7,000 mainly independent eating and drinking establishments to follow local restrictions “if they exist”.  What she stated sends chills through those of us who follow the news, along with the advice from medical professionals.

The rest of the state they can open 100% however they want. It’s a little bit of the Wild Wild West right now.

That was not the calming and calculated manner that any association should have taken when talking about opening businesses during a pandemic.  It is no wonder the vast majority of our state residents will not be visiting such establishments for quite some time.

While I grew up in Wisconsin, I did not grow up in the bar and drinking culture.  In fact, I grew up in the very opposite of such behavior.  I grew up with interests and hobbies and more curiosities than time in a day allowed to be explored.  So I was drawn to the comment from a West Allis drinker who made national news coverage.  

It’s been kinda boring sitting in my house. I love my fiancé, but there’s only so much we can handle from each other without having interaction with each other. 

It was his backward baseball cap along with the apparent fragility of his relationship that made me aware he was not concerned about taking COVID-19 home with him.   The lack of concern from these drinkers at the bars, not only for themselves but for those they are returning to after they get tanked up is what we all must be concerned about.

In 21 days we will find out if some of these drinkers still think it too boring to remain in their home.

And so it goes.

(By the way, libraries have items called books that can be downloaded to your iPad.  You can read them right at home……..really,)

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