Bars and sports fans celebrate the return of the NFL safely

Andrew Hyman
Created: September 10, 2020 11:52 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The National Football League season was officially back as of Thursday, but area sports bars are still under strict game day guidelines due to the coronavirus pandemic.

News10NBC stopped by Bathtub Billy’s in Rochester, where owner Matt Reis says on a typical game day, they have to turn fans away at the door because it's too packed inside, now he says they are prepared to turn people away again, but this time for a different reason.

Restaurants are still only permitted to allow no more than 50% capacity, which at Bathtub Billy’s, is about 200 fans. As a place that serves alcohol, the establishment must also require people to purchase food with their drinks. The bar’s also taken additional moves from adding Plexiglas dividers, and are currently operating on a reservation-only basis.

Owner Matt Reis says fans are excited to be back, but the turnout Thursday night was a bit less than expected, as he says some folks just may not be ready to go out.

"Everything is in place, it's just a matter of everybody just following the rules,” Reis said. “I think, for the most part, we'll have no problem with that, we don't seem to have any problems now, and I don't anticipate any more on Sundays, everybody knows the rules."

Despite those rules, fans we spoke with say these restrictions will not keep them from cheering on their teams.

"You have to wear a mask and just kind of social distance and stuff like that, but other than that, it's a little different, but it's like a new normal," said a fan who went by the name Jevaughn.

"It's a great thing because at the end of the day we never knew we would have this again.” said Kansas City Chiefs fan and bar security guard Dorian Archer “We never knew we were going to be able to congregate at a bar and have drinks and chill with our friends and watch the game, now that we actually got it back, it's a beautiful thing." 

Reis says they're prepared to adjust to any sort of changing guidelines as the season goes on.

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