CHICAGO (CBS) — What are you doing New Year’s, New Year’s Eve?
The State of Illinois says what you should be doing is staying home and partying virtually or just with the people with whom you live. But others are still hosting small gatherings, and as CBS 2’s Marie Saavedra reported Tuesday night, that means opportunities for certain industries.
Cashing in as safely as possible has often been the balance of the coronavirus pandemic. People are trying to find ways to work because they need a paycheck, while still protecting themselves from the virus.
It is a fine line for everybody, and we’re seeing another example as people plan parties for New Year’s Eve.
“I worked in bars and nightclubs and restaurants, so I know the industry very, very well,” said April Padilla, whose latest gig was born from this pandemic. “On a Zoom birthday call, friends were like, ‘You know so many people and you’re so personable, and you should just do a COVID-friendly, safe business.”
With that urging, Padilla started Drinks, Dames and Dons, a mobile bartending service, this spring. She was hosting socially-distant whiskey tastings by summer, billed as COVID-safe.
“We not only wear gloves and masks, constantly cleaning, constantly washing our hands,” Padilla said, “but mainly, I’ve been the one doing it because I feel like that’s safest.”
But as the weather got worse, and the inside of pubs and restaurants stayed closed, out-of-work bartenders for hire have become a hot holiday commodity.
We found a post on Facebook asking to hire someone for a small New Year’s Eve dinner, and a dozen people offered their talents. Among them was Padilla, who is capping her events at 10 people or less.
“Everybody’s safety is most important, and if it just seems like it’s not going to be kosher, we don’t do it,” she said.
But even that small a group isn’t recommended. Illinois’ Tier 3 COVID mitigations say indoor gatherings of more than one household are prohibited.
“To me, it’s baffling that people don’t follow the rules at this point,” said Dr. Erika Schwartz of Evolve Science, who wishes holiday parties just wouldn’t happen. “I think the comfort zone is kind of a balance between your personal level of comfort and the greater good.”
She and so many of us during this pandemic have learned people’s comfort levels vary greatly. For Padilla, it comes down to the personal need to work and pay bills – made possible by those still gathering and willing to hire.
“For people who don’t want to do it, they don’t have to, you know? But if you do and, you know, the weather’s not really that great, you know, it’s a great option to have,” Padilla said. “But I completely respect if people are afraid, you know. But it’s really a personal choice.”
We did a quick search of New Year’s Eve events in the city. Most are virtual, some are outside, and we called a few listed on Eventbrite that look to be indoors – but one planners said it would be a much smaller gathering with limited capacity.
But just as surely as people will stay home, others will party.
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