The Athens Police Department and Athens bars will continue to follow and enforce coronavirus safety protocols to allow for safe New Year’s Eve celebrations in Athens.
Although many Ohio University students have gone home for winter break, New Year’s Eve will still be celebrated throughout Athens. As the town prepares for the holiday, APD is continuing to take preventative measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Similarly, bars are keeping up with safety guidelines and ordinances, and some establishments have closed to stop the spread of coronavirus.
APD Capt. Ralph Harvey doesn’t anticipate any specific problems for the holiday, partly due to the fact most OU students have left Athens to spend the holidays with their families. By continuing to keep up with COVID-19 protocols, APD expects New Year’s Eve to be a safe celebration.
“We are proactively patrolling for violations of the gatherings/state health order violations and handling calls about COVID related issues,” Harvey said in an email. “APD has been and will continue to do its part to help the community within the bounds of the law and ethical law enforcement.”
Due to the nature of the coronavirus pandemic, there have been fewer arrests and service calls this year, Harvey said. However, Harvey also said the seriousness of incidents has not decreased. When enforcing the mask ordinance this holiday season, APD will continue to use education and voluntary compliance.
“We cannot arrest our way to solving a pandemic,” Harvey said in an email.
APD will not be the only ones responsible for keeping people safe on New Year’s Eve. While some Athens bars have remained open after the end of OU’s Fall Semester, Lucky’s Sports Tavern, 11 N. Court St., decided to close for winter break.
Jackson Hughes, a senior studying strategic communication, is a bartender at Lucky’s and plans on interning there next semester. The shut down of the bar came as a surprise to him.
“I’m guessing it’s because we weren’t turning enough of a profit to justify staying open over winter break because it’s already not nearly as busy with most students being off campus,” Hughes said in an email. “I don’t think (New Year's Eve) was avoided, I’m sure it’s going to be similar to other big (weekends) that we’ve experienced already during this pandemic. Just slightly more busy.”
Hughes said Lucky’s plans to reopen sometime in January.
Tony’s Tavern, on the other hand, plans to be open on New Year’s Eve. By continuing to follow COVID-19 protocols, Tony’s Manager Chandra Trembly believes it will be a safe night.
“We do have to be closed by 10 p.m., so it'll be a lot different than it’s been in past years, but we will be open,” Trembly said. “We're thinking about maybe doing a champagne toast earlier in the evening.”
As both local bars and APD plan for New Year’s Eve, Harvey said less crime is possible, but the department is prepared nonetheless.
“We will be enforcing all laws as we always have been; we will have fully staffed shifts and plan for the worst, hope for the best,” Harvey said in an email.