Bars, restaurants navigate COVID-19 spike on busiest night of the year

GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan (WOOD) — As COVID-19 cases reach high levels in West Michigan, bars and restaurants are working to circumvent the risk as many people gather with friends and family the night before Thanksgiving.

Often referred to as “the busiest bar night of the year,” businesses are wondering what the final customer volume will be in 2021.

Chris Cutting, the general manager of downtown Peppino’s Pizzeria and Sports Grille, says the company continues to take precautions by spacing tables, shifting seats and using elaborate plumbing techniques.

Last year it was only takeout the day before Thanksgiving. This year, Peppino’s continues to see strong delivery activity, especially with some people not feeling comfortable eating out.

“We’re happy to be open, and we’re also happy to work hard to provide our guests with a great, safe experience, so they can come in and have a sense of calm,” said Cutting.

Stacey Wesorick, a regular, says she’s comfortable hitting the road this year and is keeping the highs in mind.

“When I come here, I know it’s clean, I know it’s safe. They’ve got plenty of room,’ Wesorick said. “We all hear about those things, numbers going up and hospitals filling up, overcapacity, it’s always in the back of your mind, about who’s here, who’s vaccinated, who isn’t vaccinated.”

Chad Tuttle, the senior vice president of hospital operations at Spectrum Health, reminds the community to take note during the Thanksgiving holiday.

“It’s the time people like to get together to spend time with family and loved ones. We’re just encouraging people to be wary. Covid is real. COVID is here, the flu is here,” Tuttle said.

If you’re celebrating Thanksgiving with friends or family, already have a booster shot will help reduce the risk, but other precautions can also have an impact.

“We know the things that help prevent it: washing hands, wearing masks, social distancing. We know the vaccines work, the vaccines are very effective. In addition, we would encourage people before you get together, before you choose to go out and socialize, spend a vacation together, take a moment to assess your symptoms,” Tuttle said.


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