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Oklahoma health officials offer safety precautions to bar and restaurant owners as they ring in the new year – KFOR Oklahoma City

Posted: January 1, 2021 at 4:50 am

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) Bars and restaurants across Oklahoma are getting ready to bring in the New Year, and this time it will be without Gov. Kevin Stitts previously ordered 11 p.m.

After several bar owners challenged the executive order and sued the governor, on Dec. 17, a judge issued a temporary restraining order, allowing bars to stay open past 11 p.m. While some bars and restaurants decided to still close at 11 p.m. on New Years Eve to stay safe, others chose to stay open past 11.

The 7 to 11 p.m., it was very hard to get people to actually come out that early. And then on the days that we did, by the time they got there it was time to close, said Akiel Taylor, owner of Saints Ultra Lounge.

Saints Ultra Lounge opened along Bricktowns East Sheridan just three months ago, but Taylor says theyre struggling to stay afloat.

Just one month after their opening, Stitt announced a new executive order, setting an 11 oclock curfew for bars and restaurants statewide.

However, a sigh of relief for Taylor this New Years Eve as the ABLE Commission announced they wont enforce the governors bar curfew, after a temporary restraining order was filed.

Meaning for Taylor, its back to business, and business in a big way.

People are still trying to reserve tables and find entry just for tonight. So, while its overwhelming, its still very appreciated because it gives me a chance to actually take care of my staff who have kids, because this is the only thing they rely on, said Taylor.

But health officials warn 2020s problems wont go away at the stroke of midnight.

In fact, they may get worse.

By mid January, we could see another 700 to 800 people that are hospitalized with COVID-19, said Dr. Dale Bratlzer, OUs Chief COVID-19 Officer.

While Bratzler says he understands the challenges bar and restaurant owners face, he encourages them to keep it safe.

Try to limit the capacity, try to keep people as physically separated as you can. If youre indoors and youre close to other people and youre not wearing a mask, theres substantial risk of the spread of the virus, Bratzler said.

Taylor says theyre taking extra precautions like offering hand sanitizer and masks.

Hes also encouraging people to bring in the new year from home, if necessary.

Its all about being safe, being cautious of the people next to you. And if youre sick, stay home. Dont go out.

Story by KFOR reporter Brittany Spears

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Oklahoma health officials offer safety precautions to bar and restaurant owners as they ring in the new year - KFOR Oklahoma City

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