Norman restaurants and bars preparing for first home game since pandemic

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The first OU home football game of the 2020 season is Saturday night, but just this week the Norman City Council imposed new rules on bars and restaurants– as cases there continue to climb.

“It’s gonna be a different year and it’s gonna have different challenges,” Jeff Stewart, O’Connell’s Irish Pub General Manager.

Norman bars and restaurants are putting in the work before Saturday’s big game.

“Those plans have changed daily. They’ve changed daily.  We probably really just now have a final plan when the mayor announced the 75% occupancy which ought to be relatively easy to handle,” Stewart said.

During Tuesday’s city council meeting, the City of Norman voted to knock back bar and restaurant occupancy to 75% on game day. Even though the city went to full bar capacity back in June. 

“On those days, we expect to see more people in those bars and restaurants as OU is allowing less people to attend in person,” said Annahlyse Meyer with the City of Norman. “This is something we’ll continue to review as the season goes on. If there’s issues, council may come back and revise that to address it.” 

On Friday, Cleveland County reported 136 new positive tests, with 103 of those being just in Norman city limits.

But the city says they expected to see an increase as students returned to college.

Also on Friday, OU Med’s Dr. Bratzler says people are continuing to get infected in places where they aren’t wearing masks. “About three times as many of the people who reported positive covid-19 also reported they had gone to a restaurant. And about 4x as many said they had gone to a bar or coffee shop.”

While the percentage of cases on campus appears to be fluctuating, with 17% positivity on Tuesday and 9.3% on Wednesday, Bratzler says it shouldn’t be a cause for concern.

“The number of people being tested vary substantially by day. So just because of the number of people being tested, we may see that number fluctuate a bit,” Bratzler said.

But restaurants say despite the increase in cases, they’re ready to go. They’ll be counting people at the door and also using hand sanitizer.

“Yes, it concerns me, of course. But it’s also football and I’m so happy about having football,” Stewart said.

Campus Corner will also be shut down to through traffic on game day, allowing restaurants and bars to put tables and chairs outside and spread out.

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