Alabama fans pack bars, streets for CFP title game in violation of COVID-19 safety regulations

Alabama fans packed Tuscaloosa bars and streets in the hours before and after Monday’s win over Ohio State in the College Football Playoff national championship game, violating local COVID-19 safety ordinances.

Videos started surfacing around lunchtime of local bars reaching standing-room only capacity with fans packed shoulder-to-shoulder inside and out.

“Not at all,” a student responded when asked about being concerned about the pandemic.

Fans pack streets after Alabama win

That student’s prediction — “this whole street’s going to be packed tonight” – turned out to be prescient.

The street, after Alabama rolled over Ohio State, 54-24, was full of people celebrating the win as if the coronavirus pandemic didn’t exist.

Local officials urge fans to be safe

The Tuscaloosa News reported Monday that the scenes violated public health orders from mayor Walt Maddox and the Alabama state health office.

The state order requires that patrons “shall wear a mask” at a restaurant while not seated and eating or drinking. The order also limits groups to eight people and requires that groups remain spaced six feet apart. The News reports that masks were scarcely seen at the packed bars, while fans clearly flouted the social distance orders before and after the game.

Alabama's flag team perform with the band before the first half of the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game between Alabama and Missouri, Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Alabama is playing Ohio State for the national championship on Monday. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey extended an order that “Individuals will be required to wear a mask or other facial covering when in public and in close contact with other people” through Jan. 22.

According to the Tuscaloosa News, Maddox and police chief Brent Blankley issued statements urging residents to comply with safety protocols Monday. Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control requires bars and restaurants to maintain crowds at no more than 50 percent capacity.

Ohio remains under curfew

There were no reports of similar scenes before the game from local outlets in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio is under a statewide curfew that starts at 10 p.m. local time. The game kicked off shortly after 8 p.m. ET.

COVID infections, death rate surge

As of Sunday, the COVID Tracking Project reported that the rate for new cases and COVID-related deaths in the United States was at its highest point at any time during the pandemic.

As of Monday, the United States led the world with 22.5 million cases and more than 375,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins data.

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