How COVID-19 Could Impact Bar Culture in the US


It’s not impossible to see how a worldwide epidemic can stir things up… or down. That’s pretty much been the case with COVID-19 and 2020. We’ve all had to deal with setbacks and compromise. It has all but become just another day in our lives.

No one has felt this hit harder than the service industry. Whether it’s your sit-down coffee place or the local dive, they are all feeling the pressure.

More importantly, it’s going to set precedents that will continue even when things start to get better. We will all be staring at a change in bar culture across the US.

1. Bars Will Have a Limited Capacity of Visitors

There are no two ways about it. Foot traffic is destined to decline in the future. Regardless of how much things improve, there’s always going to be a fear in the back of everyone’s head. Once it’s there, it will be hard to shake it off.
It is then safe to say that corona is going to cut down on the number of bar-goers.

This should come as no surprise to anyone living in the current time. People are going to fear the consequences, get used to limiting non-essential visits, or just play it safe.

Sometime in the future, you can except your local hole in the wall to be a barren wasteland. You may find a straggler here or there, but it’s definitely not going to rival what a typical Saturday night looks like at any bar.

2. Social Distancing Rules May Remain Inside Bars

It is not always easy to start a trend, but it is easy to keep it going. If there’s one that everyone around the world is sticking to in 2020, it is social distancing. Don’t expect that to change anytime soon.

After all, better safe than sorry, right? No one’s going to risk getting a little too close to someone if it means serious health problems. Your average bar patron is not going to mingle with you like they used to.

Instead, you might just find yourself having to shout to have bar conversations with people 5 feet away.
We all like to fantasize what we are going to do when the pandemic becomes less of a threat.

Many people think it will feel like a wave of freedom and a burden being lifted off. However, the truth is, a lot of us are still going to be wary about things.

It won’t be as easy to strip your masks off or offer your hand to someone. Pandemic rules might just get ingrained enough to become society’s rules.

3. Most Pubs Will Allow Take-Away Only

A lot of businesses simply can’t carry on with the way things are right now. The ones that do, limit themselves to delivery. It saves their employees and customers and keeps them complying with Uncle Sam’s orders.
Of course, that’s easier said than done.

Most businesses, including bars and restaurants, seem to be tanking pretty bad. Is it because they have a bad business model? Hell no. Booze and food are about as basic as you can get when it comes to customer needs. So, what’s the problem?

Well, most businesses right now not only have to pay their employees and delivery fees, but they are also paying rent for their physical locations. These locations basically look as if a zombie apocalypse went through them.

They are operating with a product-to-customer model while paying the cost of a customer-to-business model. It’s also not likely that foot traffic is going to drastically increase.

Hence, businesses just might make a smarter decision to limit their seating spaces or even taking them away altogether. It’s either that or stop breaking even and go broke.

When the chains get lifted and the locks thrown away, you might be looking at a world of delivery and takeaway-only bars. Say goodbye to that dimly lit drinking experience. From now on, you will be picking up your brewskis in a paper bag.

4. Dance Floors Might Remain Empty for a While

Bars aren’t just for getting hammered. They are also for having fun while you are hammered. What better way to do that than drunkenly stumbling over to show off your best dance moves?

Dancing is one of the few basic social activities that make going to a bar worth it. What could be more satisfying than dancing with another fellow patron as the generic bar mix kicks up? Definitely not a lot.

However, if you are now thinking of heading to your local bar or club for dancing, you better be a good solo dancer. That’s because dance floors are expected to be empty for a long, long time. At that point, you will just look silly being the only one on the floor.

There are a ton of reasons why this is expected, so take your pick. You can attribute it to a lack of foot traffic, social distancing, self-quarantining measures, and more. You might even have your local bar close down its dance floor to better use that space.

5. People Will Be Picky Over What Bars They Choose

In our current world, people are already picky about who they want to associate with. You are seeing people be more cautious with their personal interactions. Some are even going so far as to discriminate against certain types of people.

This kind of effect is probably going to affect businesses as well. In fact, it’s already a thing. People are becoming wary of who they do business with. Companies caught onto this early and tried to clear all doubts.

If you haven’t received an email from a company explaining how it is dealing with COVID-19 for the umpteenth time, consider yourself lucky.

In the future, unless a bar has a really solid reputation, it is going to suffer with its customer base. You might even get to see people staying away from bars with Asian staff or Asian sounding names.

If they can believe that drinking a bottle of Corona Extra will get them sick, it’s not hard to believe this either.

6. Fake IDs Could Be Hard to Pass Due to Fewer Visitors

Fakes and bars go together well when they technically shouldn’t. It is always a rite of passage for a high schooler to get into a bar using a fake ID. In fact, it has become a part of the American culture.

You don’t even have to be an Oscar-winning actor to get in. Fake IDs aren’t amazingly hard to pass off under normal circumstances.

Young’uns take advantage of the fact that bars and clubs are packed during busy hours to sneak in. In the mix of high customer turnover, it isn’t too easy to tell if an ID looks a little off.

Expect that all to change given the current situation. It is definitely not going to be as easy to pass off fake IDs now. The fact that there will be fewer customers visiting bars will make it that much harder.

When you don’t have customers packed up against the bar, the staff will be in a better position to pay attention to each customer.

This will make it more than easy for bars to pick out the genuine adults from those that are just 21 on plastic. It won’t be easy to just sneak in undetected, and you’re going to have to come up with a really good strategy to fool staff.

7. Supply of Fake IDs Could Be Limited Due to Non-Production Inside the US

Going off the point above, let’s say you have a really good fake that rivals any inspection that can be thrown its way. Here’s the million-dollar question that’s worth asking: where are you going to get it?

In the lockdown, there aren’t many businesses or industries that are open. The ones that are provide basic needs like food, water, and medicine.

Anything else skirts into iffy territory, and it’s not likely to be given the green light. The same goes for your fake ID maker.

It doesn’t matter if you are getting it from Jimmy down the street with a printer or a big company; they are not allowed to operate. They are not going to put their neck out just so some teenager can have a beer.

If you think things are going to get better in a post-quarantine world, well, think again. Once business goes back to usual, companies are going to spend a lot of time evaluating themselves. Some will assess their success and may change some things here and there or even switch industries altogether.

It’s a supply and demand world and there might not be a big supply of fake IDs in the future we are headed toward. Especially if bars end up limiting their business model to takeaway and delivery. As a result, you are bound to see a massive reduction in fake ID production. At least in the US.

Good luck getting that beer now. Drinking underaged is going to get harder than trying to convince supermarkets to give out toilet paper for free.

8. Front House Staff and Bouncers Might Get Limited

Harsh guidelines and economic recessions are forcing businesses to look at their spending lists twice to figure out their finances. That means cutting down on expenses that they don’t think are necessary.

Bars might go toward operating using the least amount of resources they need. These resources include employees as well. So many employees are getting laid off or put on the back burner already. The future looks bleak for a lot of them.

When bars end up going back into full swing, they might be careful with their operations. You can expect the list of employees to be shorter than today.

It will make complete sense from a business standpoint too, given that there will be a decrease in the customers that come through the door.

The common target for bars and clubs may be to reduce their front house staff. The same might even apply to the bouncers keeping watch on the door. Since there’s so little foot traffic anyway, there might not be a need to keep a dedicated gatekeeper.

Instead, you might find the main bartender sharing a lot of the responsibilities. They might be put in charge of giving your ID a look or two. You will find that most bars will even end up looking like a family-owned pub.
What this means for troublemakers and fake ID users isn’t too clear.

It could be easier or harder given the circumstances, but at least you won’t be stared down by a big guy in a black T-shirt.

9. There May Be Stricter Restrictions on Bars

Everyone has to abide by government guidelines and rules set in these uncertain times. Every business type has to follow the rules or risk being wiped off entirely.

There are no concessions when it comes to places like bars, either. Bars have been forced to either close or operate under the strictest guidelines. That means they aren’t given a lot of legroom to slip up.

The moment they make a mistake, they become an easy target for the government to come down with a hammer.
That’s why it is estimated that at least 20% of bars and restaurants won’t have a chance of reopening.

On the off chance that they do, they are not going to get off that easily. In order to stay operational, they might find themselves dealing with an entirely new set of rules.

No world leader is going to risk their country just for the sake of a bar. There will be immense pressure for them to operate more meticulously than they have ever done before.

This means their cleaning process, deliveries, storage, payment processing, and so much more will be scrutinized. If you thought the health inspections up till now were bad, wait till you see what happens in the post-quarantine world.

Korey Thomas Anderson

Korey Thomas Anderson was born in Las Vegas, Nevada. He has worked as a Bouncer & has valuable experience in spotting invalid identification cards. His work has been widely appreciated by Bar Owners & currently writes for our Blog.

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