Credit: Mark Kent CC BY-SA 2.0

Government’s latest dumb idea: Alcohol free concerts

Photo Credit: Mark Kent, Flickr, CC licence

Last week’s entirely stupid rule: You cannot have any more than six people in your own home.

This week’s somehow even stupider rule: You can go to a music concert with hundreds and hundreds of people, but only if you don’t drink:

Musical events and gigs may be allowed to go ahead if alcohol is not served on the premises as part of new proposals under consideration by the Government.

Minister for Arts Catherine Martin and Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly will on Monday meet arts campaigners to examine what facilities and events can be further reopened within Covid-19 public-health guidelines.

Political sources have said Ms Martin is keen to increase the levels of audience and artists at events beyond the current restrictions and will examine if banning alcohol from such events could facilitate them being held. The Minister intends to examine both indoor and outdoor events as part of this process.

This would mean gigs may get the green light to proceed potentially without alcohol sales and possibly with larger attendance figures.

Is it Coronavirus we’re trying to suppress, or alcohol? Pubs are closed, but everything else is open. If there’s a common thread in Government Coronavirus policy, it’s to shut down events where people might consider drinking alcohol.

Covid 19, like all Coronaviruses, is transmitted through close person to person contact: An infected person exhales a cloud of viruses, and you, standing close to them, breathe in their dirty air and the virus makes a new home in your upper respiratory system. The virus, being an unconscious entity, has no feelings of any kind in the matter, and does not especially care if you are drunk or sober in the process. Alcohol does not supercharge it or give it special powers. So, what’s this about?

The justification, one assumes, is the idea that if you put 50 people in a room and give them alcohol, they will start becoming less conscious of the danger that the virus poses. “Don’t drink and drive” is becoming “don’t drink and stand next to somebody”, for broadly similar reasons.

But that’s nonsense, isn’t it?

If you put 300 people in a room at a music concert, how different is that from putting 300 people in a room in a meat factory? Are they all drinking beer on their shifts in the meat factory, and hugging and slobbering all over each other, as the Government seems to fear would happen at some boring whiny Hozier concert?

Or is it the fact that in meat factories, they’re all in a confined, hot, sweaty space?

Ireland remains, at the time of writing, the only country in all of Europe where pubs remain largely closed. Which leads one to believe that it’s not so much to do with the virus, as it is to do with the fact that the powers that be do not trust the ordinary plebs with alcohol. If pubs can safely open in the UK, why not here? What is it about a person in Milton Keynes that makes them more able to drink safely than a person in Miltown Malbay?

This is untenable. Because the policy simply doesn’t make any sense.

Go back up to the opening line of this piece: You can’t have more than six people in your home, but you can, it is proposed, go to a concert venue with hundreds of people. Is it easier to maintain social distancing in a home, or in a concert venue?

If our policy is about limiting opportunities for the virus to spread, this is an awful idea. If our policy is about de-normalising alcohol, then it makes more sense. Except that nobody asked them, or gave them permission, to pursue that policy.

Figure it out if you can. I cannot.


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