For some Miami University students eager to make up for the past year and a half of college life during the pandemic, Oxford’s many bars are the perfect place to be. But some uncertainties linger as the delta variant and unvaccinated populations remain an issue.
Chi Pham, a senior strategic communication major, said she is looking forward to returning to bars but remains apprehensive about them as well.
“It's my senior year, so I do want to have fun, but I want to stay cautious as well … With the delta variant, I'm not super comfortable going all out,” said Pham.
While many bars and restaurants across the state have dropped intense COVID-19 measures, there are some that have taken a new stance.
Brick Street Bar & Grill, Oxford's most popular bar, recently announced it would require patrons to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test for entry. Some students supported the measure, while others remained hesitant.
Faith Baxter, a senior chemistry major, said Brick’s requirement could help keep underage students out of the bar as well as limit the spread of COVID-19.
“I think some bars should be limited to exclusively vaccinated students just for the safety of people who are vaccinated,” Baxter said. “It would also [help with] underage drinking at Miami.”
Dornu Biragbara, a senior psychology and pre-medical studies double major, said she supports the elimination of COVID-related restrictions in bars and restaurants.
“I think we should go back to [full] capacity … If you’re at Brick, you’re already putting yourself at that risk so the precautions don’t matter as much,” Biragbara said.
Baxter prefers that some precautions, such as limited capacity or mask requirements, still be taken.
“I think there should be a mask mandate at unvaccinated bars, and maybe an optional one at vaccinated [bars],” Baxter said.
Pham said she would like for vaccination requirements or limited capacities to be implemented, but for the dance floor to return.
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“I want [some] precautions, but I don’t want the table,” Pham said. “The tables are super boring.”
Pham also stressed the importance of having bars and their customers combine their attempts to minimize the spread of COVID.
“I think both sides need to have some efforts into protecting the community, because if the restaurant doesn’t do anything, all my effort will [go to] waste,” Pham said.
Even though bars and restaurants can implement some safety measures, students are showing an understanding that there is always some risk in entering them.
“I feel like the most bars and restaurants can do is keep it clean, sanitize everything … After that it's up to you to stay six feet apart, etc,” said Biragbara. “If you're scared of COVID, you probably shouldn’t be at Brick.”