Let Laughter Live
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The San Diego Chief of Police instructed Vice Operations to visit comedy clubs operating outdoors to inform them they were in violation of County and State guidelines around reopening. On Saturday, August 8, 2020 detectives arrived at numerous comedy clubs around San Diego, less than an hour before doors opened, informed them of the directive from above and stated if they returned and the club had proceeded with shows they would be shut down and written up for the violation. These detectives were unable to give guidance on what a violation entailed and referred to the section on Entertainment Venues when asked where outdoor comedy was not allowed.
The regulations around Entertainment Venues were written at the beginning of this pandemic and have not been updated to reflect the momentous changes that have taken place since, including conducting business exclusively outdoors. One venue asked for guidance in June from the county before reopening in an effort to ensure compliance and was referred to the state. The response from the state was “A comedy club restaurant may operate as a restaurant under the dine-in guidance, however this guidance is not intended for concert, performance, or entertainment venues.” This category is vague and based on the response, state employees understand this category to be focused on large indoor venues that can seat thousands and not small venues operating outdoors that seat less than 100.
Family Entertainment Centers, such as arcades and bowling alleys, are allowed to operate outdoors where patrons are constantly moving around each other, making it impossible to avoid contact with other’s germs. Outdoor comedy clubs have minimal patron movement and have observed strict guidelines around sanitation, employee wellness, mask use and social distancing.
Places of Worship are allowed to conduct services outdoors and operate similar to comedy clubs, albeit on a more serious topic. There is one speaker, in front of an audience, that should be socially distanced, sharing his or her beliefs / views with those in attendance. Why should comedy clubs be treated differently?
The mental effects of quarantine are being felt nationwide, humans by nature are a social being and many individuals are experiencing depression and the ill effects of being isolated from others. Outdoor comedy was allowing individuals to stay safe and laugh, feeling momentarily at least less isolated and part of a community.
Many comedy clubs are small businesses and bills continue to come due whether these businesses are allowed to operate or not. While many comedy clubs serve food and have licenses to operate as restaurants, the space they rent is larger than most restaurants for obvious reasons and the main source of paying rent on that larger space is through comedy shows. If these businesses are not allowed to operate outdoors, many throughout the state may not survive much longer. There needs to be a balance between keeping a business closed and allowing it to operate outdoors following proper safety protocols, as many comedy clubs were already doing.
The Coronavirus pandemic is a serious threat to everyone, both physically and mentally, and it is essential to recognize the importance of balancing complete isolation with necessary human interaction.
Please do the right thing and allow Comedy Clubs to open outdoors following proper safety protocols and Let Laughter Live.
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