Bars contemplated staying open for Michigan State NCAA Tournament game

COVID fears outweigh MSU game for many
Published: Mar. 18, 2021 at 5:12 PM EDT
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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - The presence of the B.1.1.1.7 variant in East Lansing forced the city to put extra restrictions in place ahead of St. Patrick’s Day. Given that Thursday evening was the Michigan State basketball game, many bars and restaurants wanted to draw significant crowds.

Right now, bars and restaurants can still be at 50 percent capacity. But part of the problem is that the game tips just before at 9:57 p.m. and bars are going to have kick people out around halftime at 11 p.m.

Joe Bell, who owns Peanut Barrel, has made up his mind.

“I thought about it. But the thought of asking people to leave at halftime was a little daunting,” said Bell. “We would just not offer the ballgame at all.”

While Peanut Barrel isn’t staying open later for the game, some others are choosing to do so. Lou and Harry’s and Crunchy’s in East Lansing say they’ll stay open until 11 p.m. but will have to kick people out then.

Whether to stay open for about half of the tournament game isn’t the only decision bars could be facing. With the B.1.1.1.7 variant in the MSU community, is it even worth it to have students inside at 50 percent capacity?

Bell thinks that if the situation was too bad, the state would make the decision for him.

“I think there is always going to be a concern. I think long before it got rampant, I think there would be a response from the MDHHS or the Governor. I think they would reduce capacity again or perhaps lock us down again,” said Bell.

Some MSU students aren’t going to take the possible risk of going to a bar.

“Not right now. As much as I would love to... no,” said MSU junior Jordan Van Remmen.

Van Remmen’s concerns about the variant convinced her to watch the game at her parents’ house in East Lansing.

MSU freshman R.J. Mclaren agrees, he’ll be watching in his dorm room. “St. Patrick’s Day was yesterday. I noticed a lot of people were hanging out and partying, so I assume there’s going to be a spike in case numbers in the next week or so, based on what I saw yesterday just from my own dorm.”

MSU has not issued any specific guidance or expectations for students for Thursday’s game.

An MSU spokesperson told News 10 that the school is doing its best to reinforce the importance of risk-mitigating measures.

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