It is extremely tempting to simply ask those wishful customers to re-join the queue at the far end, and start all over again, feeding the Backlog Beast.
Of course, such a tactic could create immense hardship for many of those customers; will complicate the appointment process; and will spark many, many email and telephone appeals both from the customers themselves and from every other office inside the mission as friends, colleagues, interlocutors, suppliers, informants, and distant relatives beg them to act as intermediaries. But that, as many might say, is just a part of the regrettable complexity of needing or wanting to travel to the US.
Or the consular section, when it re-opens, could essentially throw open the doors and double or triple its intake and processing until the backlog is gone and the office has returned to what should be its normal schedule of 2-5 working days for the first non-emergency appointment.
Can't be done? Of course it can. Both before and after the near-universal system of NIV appointments, alert, creative, courageous and humanitarian consular sections all over the world have been able to devise ways to suck in and spit out both successful and un- applicants as efficiently and effectively as a Dyson DC41. They borrow LES employees from other sections; they have a firm talk with the RSO; they shorten interviews by half or more (no, the applicants don't 'deserve' longer interviews that necessary in order to get value for the application fee); they refuse to listen to any 'Yes, but..." They get it done.
And the best consular managers are already working on that plan to catch up: are already lining up those LES; talking with the RSO; assuring interviewing officers that an NIV decision can actually be made, in 90% of cases, in less than one minute. By COB today, that plan will be in place and ready to spring up and trap the Backlog Beast.
The results of not feeding the Beast? Crowds of relieved customers and relieved colleagues; a huge cloud of local good will at every level of society and government; and grateful astonishment that the US mission would care enough about ordinary local nobody-specials to treat them as they would want to be treated.
Imagine that. Diplomacy at its finest, consular style.