by William Skink
The spike in Coronavirus cases is so bad in places like Missoula that the Health Department is taking drastic steps to address the spread of the virus. Businesses like restaurants can only operate at half capacity, while bars are being forced to stop selling alcohol at 10pm. If you are wondering how stopping alcohol sales at 10pm is going to help anything, blogger Greg Strandberg, who will lose work hours from this move, shared this insight about the Health Department restrictions:
As I told you they would yesterday, Missoula County went ahead today and limited what amount of business our bars and restaurants can do.
From now on, just 50% of capacity.
Oh, and no serving booze after 10 PM.
Used to be we could serve it until 2 AM, then 12:30 AM, and now just 10 PM.
It’s because the virus is smart. It’s learning to come out earlier at night, not just after midnight. It’s clearly more intelligent than we originally thought.
Thank God we have an equally impressive intellectual team working in the Health Department!
Strandberg is being purposely absurd here to reflect the absurdity of the measures being imposed. Part of this absurdity can be seen when you contrast what restaurants and bars are now dealing with other economic engines in Missoula, like the airport.
If the pandemic is so bad that local businesses are being forced to commit economic suicide, then shouldn’t we be a little more concerned about the amount of people flying in to our little valley?
One might assume the answer to that question would be YES, but in this Missoula Current article, titled Flights, Passengers Returning to Missoula Airport as Confidence Grows, there is ZERO concern about people packing themselves into airplane fuselages and flying to Missoula. Instead of concern, there is stuff like this:
Passenger counts at Missoula International Airport continue to rebound from the deepest days of the pandemic, though they remain far below what they were at the same point last year.
Still, the climbing numbers have airport officials feeling more optimistic than they were over the summer, when they were bracing for possible cuts to service.
“It’s still trending up ever so slightly,” said deputy airport director Brian Ellestad. “We’re definitely above the national average right now, so that’s a good thing.”
I added the emphasis because I think it’s worth asking, is this REALLY a “good thing”?
If you’re in the business of flying people around the country then, yes, I can see how more people flying on airplanes to Missoula would be seen as a good thing.
But, from a PANDEMIC perspective, how can we justify negatively impacting some types of businesses (restaurants, bars) to slow the spread of the virus, while cheering on the rebound of businesses like airports and airline carriers, which appear, at least to a layman like myself, to be a FAR GREATER risk of promoting viral spread?
The Missoula Current must be pretty excited about the progress going on at the airport, because in addition to promoting the idea of GROWING CONFIDENCE for passengers, MC is also reporting that the terminal project remains on budget and NEW FLIGHTS have been added to San Diego and San Jose.
Isn’t that great news, Missoula? The folks at the airport are certainly excited about this pleasant surprise, as reported by Gomer Kidston and his merry band of gentrification cheerleaders:
It came as a surprise back in July when Alaska Airlines announced its plans to begin new daily service from Missoula to three destinations in California, never mind the pandemic.
Combined with the carrier’s three other nonstop routes from Missoula, the new flights, which begin in March, present new opportunities for travelers to reach global destinations in a single stop.
Now, Missoula International Airport and two tourism agencies in Montana will begin marketing the new service, even if it came as a surprise and wasn’t budgeted for this fiscal year.
“Back when we did the budget for this fiscal year, it was doom and gloom,” said deputy airport director Brian Ellestad. “We sliced and actually took out marketing dollars because we didn’t expect to get new service in the middle of a pandemic.”
Isn’t it nice that the Missoula International Airport has moved beyond its doom and gloom budget projections to realize there is still money to be made flying people directly from California to Missoula?
And isn’t it nice they have media like the Missoula Current to promote their business expansion while local businesses get decimated by the selective authoritarians at the Health Department?
If I was a local business owner being told to cut my business model in half while we cheerily fly potential meat sack vectors into our valley at increasing rates, I would be very, VERY angry.
What would happen if a local business just ignores the Health Department? Would that business be forced to shut its doors? How would that be accomplished, logistically speaking? Would the Sheriff’s Department get involved?
I think it’s worth pondering the possible answers to those questions because people are not going to just roll over and allow their livelihood to be destroyed, especially when other businesses that seem to carry more risk are being allowed to expand.