PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — As Super Bowl Sunday approaches, local bars are gearing up for the gridiron action.
Bar owners and managers said the event, which U.S. health leaders said has the potential to be a super spreader for COVID-19, is typically one of their busiest days of the year. Some said although they intend to keep the watch party tradition alive, they’re going to put safety first.
Shea Ward, general manager of the Bullpen Sports Bar at Landmark, said the usual bar scene packed with cheering sports fans standing shoulder-to-shoulder won’t be the case this year.
“It’s going to be a little different,” Ward said. “Years past it’s probably one of our top three busiest days of the year but with everything going on we canceled some of our bigger giveaways.”
Ward said the bar’s staff are doing everything they can to offer the same experience with less risk.
“We want to give everyone the safest route to enjoying probably one of the biggest games in the world,” Ward said.
Local health leaders said COVID-19 cases in the tri-county area have been on the decline, while Region 2 recently entered Phase 4 of governor J.B. Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan. Ward said they’re planning on following the guidelines listed under Phase 4.
“We’re going to have tables six feet apart, all servers and bartenders are going to have masks on,” Ward said. “Door guy gets here, he’s going to check your temperature before you come in.”
He said they’re also not allowing more than six people in a group.
These are similar protocols that can be expected at MD’s Bar & Grill. MaryBeth Milburn, the owner, said sanitation and separation have become second nature.
“We’re still going to social distance and we do watch that,” Milburn said. “We had a group come in the other day and we had to split them into two tables because that’s what they asked.”
Milburn said they’ll have sanitation stations and masks for customers who forget theirs. She said it may even take a little while to service people because the staff will be cleaning up after customers move locations.
“If we get full we are going to turn some people away, we can’t take that chance,” Milburn said. “If we have to we’ve got an outside TV too.”
The nation’s top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said when it comes to the Super Bowl people should just ‘just lay low and cool it.’ Both Ward and Milburn said they’ll have options for people who want to do just that.
“We hope that those who are hesitant about coming out will partake in coming and calling in an order and get carryout,” Milburn said. “We also are doing curbside service if they don’t want to come into the bar.”
They said they’re placing protection before a packed house.