Evansville restaurants, bars hoping to ring in new year with safe celebrations

Evansville restaurants, bars hoping to ring in new year with safe celebrations

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - While some will choose to watch the ball drop safely from their homes Thursday night, others decided to venture out for the evening, but how are venues making sure it’s a safe celebration and not a COVID-19 super spreader event?

Our 14 News team spoke to a few people who say they don’t always celebrate the holiday. However, after spending so much time at home this year, they decided to come have a few drinks.

“We’ve been cooped up in the house and not really doing anything, so we just wanted to get out,” Shannon St. Laurent shared.

A temperature check near the front door is nothing new at Bokeh Lounge. It has been this way for months, but it is just the first of many changes the business has made trying to keep customers healthy.

“We’re limiting our space tonight because of all the restrictions,” General Manager Jessica Nuffer explained. “It’s a lot different - people will be wearing their masks, whether they like it or not.”

The exception is when people are seated and have food or drinks.

2020 has brought many hoops for businesses to jump through, not to mention the extra cleaning and the enforcement of health guidelines.

“We put out a ton of hand sanitizer — it’s everywhere,” Nuffer added. “Bathrooms, halls, entrances, so we just want people to feel as comfortable as they can. It’s been a struggle, but it’s day by day.”

To come celebrate is a choice and it is one that some people do feel comfortable making, knowing about those strict safety measures. However, don’t except this party to go into the early morning hours.

“Nothing good ever happens after midnight,” Nuffer smiled. “Your momma always told you that — she meant it. So, we’re shutting it down around midnight. We used to stay open until 2 a.m. and do late night food, but we felt it is best and safest.”

At midnight, 2020 becomes a memory, and the answer is clear on what some wish to leave behind.

“COVID!” Christina Johnson shouted. “Masks. Everything. Get back to people loving each other. Some type of normalcy.”

Bokeh decided to scale back this year, opting for a DJ instead of a live band, but there was plenty to still look forward to like a champaign toast and door prizes.

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