According to the data that are becoming known, more than half of the outbreaks recorded in recent weeks are related to what we have been calling ‘nightlife venues’, whether they are discotheques, family gatherings or spontaneous meetings.
But what about the night? Why are the experts so concerned with this? Is it as important as it seems?
On paper, it is an ideal environment: What is usually called “nightlife” is an ideal breeding ground for the spread of the virus: it is a closed place (usually badly ventilated) with loud music (talking louder is associated with more saliva droplets) where everybody drinks (an activity for which anybody have to take off the mask). But, beyond that, now in summer nightly interactions grow exponentially as a strategy to avoid heat. In other words, both factors come together to find the perfect storm.
We have known for many months that most contagious outbreaks originate in closed spaces and in continuous contact with other people. In gyms, pubs, live music venues, karaoke rooms and similar establishments where people gather for relatively long periods of time. This was a point to be addressed, but in view of the data it seems that we have not been very successful.
Nightlife is, at least on paper, easy to control by closing down venues, monitoring squares and insisting that meetings should not involve too many people.
Why isn’t something being done? It has been tried. In fact, in many areas capacity has been reduced and venue owners have been asked to implement imaginative solutions. However, it is very difficult to fit the return to the new normality with effective systems to curb the virus, the economy with health. Even so, we will soon see measures to close down premises in specific areas and the debate on their regulation is beginning to gain momentum.
We do not know exactly what will happen, but it is clear that, with the summer holidays just around the corner, measures will have to be taken soon.