Sununu, Reopening Task Force guidance puts bars, taverns behind the eight ball

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Billiard hall owners are just as confused about the state's guidance on shooting pool safely during the COVID pandemic as bar and tavern owners.

Of course the winners in the state's capricious COVID guidance don't come out screaming and crying that it's not fair. Unlike the government, they have payroll to meet that isn't paid for by taxpayers.

I spoke to one billiard hall owner last week who said he was almost embarrassed that his business had been spared while bars, taverns and restaurants that rely on pool shooters and tournaments as well as darts aficionados to augment their earnings were left out to dry.

He said he saw absolutely no difference between shooting pool in a bar or a billiard hall when it come to preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

He didn't want to identify himself or his business, but agreed the guidelines make no sense.

According to state guidance, "Games and other bar functions (e.g. pool/billiards, darts, arcade games, etc.) are not allowed."

Meanwhile, laser tag and billiard halls have been open since June 15.

Gov. Chris Sununu sought to parse the state's quizzical guidance during a press conference on Sept. 24.

Speaking to a question on why shooting pool is fine in billiard halls, but not bars, he said: "I know it's a pain for some folks. They like to have those types of options in the restaurants and stuff. But we are asking, until we get through the COVID crisis, which I think there is a light at the end of the tunnel here, right now we're not in a position to open that up, except in a few extreme circumstances.

"One of the examples I would give is there's a couple of restaurants where their primary business is those games. Think of like a bowling alley, for example, right? So, bowling alleys have their own guidance, and if there are other businesses where the gaming aspect is as much of a business or more of a business than the restaurant aspect, we have made some exceptions in those very, very rare cases. But traditional throwing darts at the bar or something, that's exactly what got a lot of folks into trouble in other parts of the country."

So that begs the questions: Is this a guidance driven by public health?

After all billiard halls have liquor licenses, just like bars.

In fact, billiard halls have tournaments, which can even draw more people to a common area.

The state's Reopening Task Force should correct this duplicitous wielding of arbitrary guidance. It's not grounded in medical data or common sense.

The governor prefaced his remarks on the dichotomy of billiard safety by saying of bar, tavern and restaurant owners: "And I think it's a small sacrifice to ask."

Really, they've had to cut their seating by sometimes 50 percent and you say taking away their pool and darts revenue is "a small sacrifice."

Maybe we should calculate how much they've lost in revenue and apply that percentage to the governor's paycheck.

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