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Schools or bars? WHO says countries need to choose between the two

WHO official said countries might need to choose between keeping their bars or schools open.

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Patrons at Sluggers World Class Sports Bar Friday, Sept. 4, 2020, are reminded to wear a mask right along with the sports news of the day in the Wrigleyville neighborhood of Chicago. “We have no choice but to make it through this,” said Zach Strauss, who runs Sluggers with his brothers David and Ari after their father, Steve, opened the bar in 1985.

Patrons at Sluggers World Class Sports Bar on Friday, Sept. 4, 2020, are reminded to wear a mask right along with the sports news of the day in the Wrigleyville neighborhood of Chicago. “We have no choice but to make it through this,” said Zach Strauss, who runs Sluggers with his brothers David and Ari after their father, Steve, opened the bar in 1985.

Charles Rex Arbogast, Associated Press

Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization’s health emergencies program, said on Tuesday that countries will need to decide between keeping bars and nightclubs open in the winter or allowing schools to operate, CNN reports.

  • “We have to sustain pressure on this virus, we have to reduce transmission at community level in order to lower the risk to those older and vulnerable people and to maintain an environment in which our children can continue to attend school.”
  • “So, what is more important? Are children back at school? Are the nightclubs and the bars open?” he said. “I think these are decisions that we have to make in coming into the winter months.” 

Ryan said quarantining people and keeping social distancing to a minimum will help protect more people in the winter, according to CNN.

  • “If we are to serve our children and those older and vulnerable people in our population who might die this winter in these countries, then we must sustain these other activities and these cannot be sustained without government commitment to do this and society’s commitment to participate and be part of this,” he said. 

Other scientists said something similar:

Helen Jenkins, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Boston University, said in July that reopening schools might require countries to make hard choices in what to reopen to keep people safe, according to the Associated Press.

  • “We need to think about what our priorities are as a society, and some other things may just have to wait. I think there are hard choices having to be made by decision makers.”

David Rothschild, an economist at Microsoft Research, told the Associated Press that sending children to school can impact the economy in ways bars and restaurants can’t, too.

  • “It’s what allows so many adults, especially people without much means, to get back to work. There’s this huge downstream effect in the short run of getting people back into school, which you may not be able to say in the same sort of way for bars and restaurants.”