Amid the people attending paranoia-and-falsehood-driven protests against state government restrictions to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, there is one set of folks who deserve at least some measure of sympathy because their plight is real: bar and restaurant owners.

Just about everyone is being asked to sacrifice something to stem the loss of life. For some, the sacrifice is working from home, avoiding large family gatherings, teaching kids online, limiting friendly contacts to Zoom. For others, the cost has been higher – lost employment, mounting unpaid bills, inability to provide enough food for a family.

Among those sacrificing the most are chefs, restaurateurs and bartenders. In normal times, these people provide the places where we all share hours of celebration, romance, revelry, socializing and entertainment, as well as pure appreciation of food not cooked at home. However, exactly because these are the settings in which we gather together in close proximity, saloons and cafes were the first to be shut down when the pandemic hit and will be the last businesses to open up again when the threat of disease dissipates.

Some of our favorite dining places are hanging on by providing take-out orders, but restaurant-industry leaders have raised serious questions about the capacity to survive another several more months of severely limited business. Opening a restaurant or a pub is a leap of faith and a high-risk act of entrepreneurship in the best of times. In these hard times, if the doors must stay closed at the places that provide food and drink, more should be done to target financial aid to these businesses.

They may be non-essential, but, if they disappear, they will be sorely missed.

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