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Oklahoma health experts fear coronavirus spread ar New Year's Eve events

Posted at 5:41 PM, Dec 31, 2020

TULSA, Okla. — State health officials are worried New Year's Eve parties may spread the coronavirus.

Bar and club owners told 2 Works for You, the holiday's business is necessary in a miserable financial year.

"This'll be the first night in a long while that we're actually going to have a building that might reach occupancy," Chris Shoaf, general manager of Club Majestic in Tulsa, said.

Shoaf is preparing his club for a NYE party. Thanks to another delay in the initial hearing in a lawsuit against Gov. Kevin Stitt's executive order limiting bars and restaurants' hours of operation, visitors will get to watch the ball drop at midnight.

"Tonight will be a really big shot in the arm for us, and I'm sure it will be for a lot of people in the restaurant and bar business," Shoaf said.

A shot in the arm won't qualm health experts concerns for New Year's Eve celebrations.

The newly-arrived COVID-19 vaccine is still developing toward the second dose. Health experts say large, social gatherings have prime potential for a spread.

"When we get a lot of people together in tight quarters, especially in an indoor space, that creates a great environment for this virus to spread," Dr. George Monks, president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association, said.

Shoaf told 2 Works for You he does not see any other option. Club Majestic shut down in Spring 2020 and was mandated to close at 11 p.m. in the fall.

"It just killed our business," Shoaf said.

Perhaps the biggest party of the year comes on its last day, as local bars are on their last legs.

One last 'hoorah' and cheers to a better 2021.

"It's really kind of a balancing act, but I also think we're not being completely irresponsible in what we're doing," Shoaf said.

Shoaf said Majestic has plenty of PPE, socially-distant tables, hand sanitizing stations, and a specialized air filtration system. The club is also limiting visitors to the first 139 to arrive, Thursday night.

Shoaf said their only real concern is preventing people from intermingling with different tables. He said they will be policing that activity, all night.

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