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.
LARGE CROWDS GATHER IN TUSCALOOSA AT BARS: large crowds of fans are waiting in long lines at bars on the strip trying to get seats inside to watching tonight’s college national championship game pic.twitter.com/x9f1Dawp8c
— Tim Reid (@reidreporterguy) January 11, 2021
My daughter sent this short video from Tuscaloosa just after noon today. People are lined up to get into bars seven hours before the nat’l championship kickoff game. Mayor @WaltMaddox please close the bars today and stop this super spreader event in Tuscaloosa. pic.twitter.com/6ZvLZMF9xM
— Judge David Carpenter (@DavidOCarpenter) January 11, 2021
— Malique (@MaliqueRankin) January 11, 2021
“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.
— James Benedetto (@james_benedetto) January 12, 2021
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 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.
Are you watching the @OhioStateFB Buckeyes right now?
Anyone watching at a bar or restaurant in Ohio will have to head home around halftime due to the statewide curfew. @threesabovehigh and other bars are making the most of their game time hours tonight. @wsyx6 pic.twitter.com/YGgzuSxOcy
— Kalea Gunderson (@KaleaGunderson) January 12, 2021
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.
Even without reports from five states today, the seven-day averages for new cases and deaths are higher today than at any other point in the pandemic. pic.twitter.com/s6rhEDXOAt
— The COVID Tracking Project (@COVID19Tracking) January 11, 2021
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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