Some bars, restaurants say they can ring in new year safely; Others cancel celebrations


CLEVELAND (WJW) – 2022 is just four days away and many people are preparing for the new year with parties and celebrations. But, unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic will not go out with 2021.

According to one Cleveland Clinic physician, most doctors would not advise people to attend large New Year’s Eve parties this year. 

Some bars, restaurants and organizations canceled their New Year’s Eve celebrations because of the surge in COVID-19 cases. Others believe they can ring in the new year safely.

“We want to make this a great year ahead and we’re going to ring it in right,” said Sam McNulty, co-owner of several bars along the West 25th Street’s entertainment strip in Cleveland.

His bars were closed last New Year’s because of the pandemic, but this year, they are open to holiday revelers.

“Speakeasy with the DJ, dancing and champagne, Jell-O shots. Market Garden, delicious food specials, great beers we’re releasing that night and here an Nano, we’ve got a double header… New Year’s Eve tiki bar pop-up, so tiki cocktails all night and then the next morning a champagne brunch with a DJ for New Year’s Day,” McNulty said.

“I think most of us in medicine would have a tough time encouraging people to go to large group settings on New Year’s but that decision is certainly a very personal one,” said Dr. Joseph Khabbaza, pulmonary and critical care physician at the Cleveland Clinic.

Khabbaza said he would not advise people attend large gatherings due to the contagiousness of the omicron variant. He said that is a personal decision that everyone should make, depending on individual risk factors for severe illness if they got sick.

“Smaller tends to be a little more safer, but if everybody at the gathering is fuly vaccinated, those are going to be much safer gatherings,” said Khabbaza.

“We’ve made huge investments. First and foremost, if you look at all our HVAC systems, our air handling system, we’re using the same technology that the Cleveland Clinic uses to purify the air constantly,” said McNulty.

McNulty said safety is priority at all of his venues holding New Year’s events.

“My team wears masks when they’re working and we’re constantly sanitizing, taking all the precautions,” he said.

“There’s a lot of laughter, a lot of singing, a lot of speaking loudly. These are droplet-generating events as well, so being in an indoor setting, in a festive setting, as well as a perfect setup for a very contagious respiratory virus to transmit,” said Khabazza.

“We’re going to keep people safe, but we’re also going to provide a wonderful environment, safe environment and we’re going to have a lot of fun,” said McNulty.

Khabbaza also said COVID-19 cases are much higher now leading into New Year’s Eve than they were leading into Christmas, because of the highly contagious omicron variant.

He said if you are planning to go to a large, indoor gathering to ring in the new year, he suggests that you are fully vaccinated, and that means having a booster shot as well.

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