ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC)— With the Syracuse University men’s basketball team making it to the NCAA tournament, typically this would mean bars packed with fans here in Rochester, but this year, like everything else, COVID-19 is changing the celebrations.
The Syracuse game starts at 9:55 Saturday night, meaning basketball fans at bars and restaurants would have to leave sometime after the first half, due to the 11pm curfew. A huge loss of revenue for bars but a way to keep everyone safe from COVID-19.
“Being that late, and what they close at 11, no way I would be doing that,” said Steve Citron, who will be watching the game from home.
“Normally I probably would be, but with covid, you got to do what you got to do. So if the curfew helps, its helps” said Eric Flynn, a basketball fan.
With more fans staying home, bars like McGinny’s on the River are expecting smaller crowds and less money coming in.
“The Syracuse game is a huge revenue builder. Honestly, I remember one year we were four deep at the bar, it’s just crazy for the entire game and they happened to win that game and people stayed after. It was just a great night. But tonight, just have no expectations,” said Chet Brassie, manager of McGinny’s on the River.
Bars and restaurants are still under strict COVID-19 guidelines. On top of the 11 p.m. curfew, indoor dinning capacity is 75%, and tables must be six feet apart, limiting how many seats can be set out. Other CDC guidelines like social distancing and face mask do apply.
Many places like the Exchange Sports Bar are still hoping for a good turnout despite the restrictions.
“Like we can’t have people standing or anything we have to have everyone sitting and we probably won’t be able to get all of our tables seated,” said Morgan Fenton, Supervisor Exchange Sports Bar.
The CDC released a report earlier this month suggesting that indoor dining increases the chance of COVID-19 infection and while fans are disappointed they won’t have a bar atmosphere for the game, they point out the virus is still here.
“I totally got it I mean from a bar standpoint yeah they’re probably missing out on some revenue but they’re going it for a damn good reason,” said Andy Martin, a college basketball enthusiast.
At restaurants, pickup and takeout are available past 11 p.m., just no service inside.