El Agave St. Peter

El Agave restaurant in St. Peter. (File photo/southernminn.com)

A reality in St. Peter: Restaurants and bars are open with customers distanced and practicing personal responsibility to slow the spread while supporting small businesses.

False perception: Every bar and restaurant in the United States is packed with people high-fiving, hugging and ignoring medical professionals’ pleas to stay safe and not overwhelm the hospitals.

Please see for yourself, if you feel comfortable being out and about while taking precautions. Protect yourself and others by wearing a mask and carrying hand sanitizer when visiting a local restaurant or bar, keeping your distance inside from anyone who is not in your bubble. Because, primarily, that’s what’s happening in our awesome local venues.

The state restricts bars and restaurants to 50 percent capacity. The reality is, many folks exercise such a healthy fear of COVID that they prefer, rather than dining in, to support restaurants by using curbside, pickup and delivery methods. The effect is many bars and restaurants since March aren’t seeing numbers of customers at any one time getting them to the 50 percent. It’s a good thing, in that it means you have plenty of space to breathe relatively safe air.

However, if you venture away from St. Peter, and happen upon a bar or restaurant where folks are obviously too close to one another and not practicing personal responsibility, run the other way.

By nature, many of us are gregarious, gathering creatures. Laughing and conversing makes life more fun. Temptations to gather, perhaps too closely, seem to pull us together at so many venues, certainly not just the ones that serve drinks and food. We can’t let our guard down.

Other realities in St. Peter: Restaurants and bars want to protect their customers, so their customers keep coming back. They also go to great lengths with measures designed to keep their employees be safe, so we should, and should want to, help with that.

Please, keep supporting small business every way you can, while exercising personal responsibility to strike a good balance between slowing the spread and pitching in with a critically important role of fueling the local economy.

Please stay safe out there (and in there)!

Ed Lee is the executive director of the St. Peter Area Chamber of Commerce.

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