Locals, bars prepare for New Year’s Eve as omicron variant spreads

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — New Year’s Eve is just two days away, and the omicron variant continues to spread rapidly.

Action News Jax wanted to find out how local bars and clubs are preparing for the large crowds expected during another holiday celebrated in the midst of a lingering pandemic.

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Whether you ring in 2022 at the Beaches, in Riverside, or anywhere in between, there are a lot of mixed feelings about New Year’s Eve during COVID-19.

“I think right now because of COVID, you shouldn’t be going out in the crowds or anything, especially with the new variant, stay wise,” Cal Kimbro said.

Kimbro and Erin Orlando are opting for a low-key New Year’s Eve.

Orlando isn’t thrilled about sacrificing the festivities, but she says it beats getting infected and putting loved ones at risk.

“I know it’s hard especially because you can’t see as many people at the same time as you’d like to,” Orlando added.

Seueli Alves sees it a little differently. While she still takes safety precautions like masking up in crowds, she refuses to put her life on hold.

“If you are feeling okay, if you are healthy, why should you be inside of your house and fearful? That is a way of being dead, alive,” Alves explained.

Many of Kristian Delgado’s friends have been catching COVID-19, so he’s playing it safe by staying in this New Year’s Eve.

“It’s a bummer but I think we’ll still have some fun,” he said.

It’s a sacrifice he’s willing to make in order to avoid putting himself and his loved ones at risk.

Delgado says he isn’t against people going out; like Alves, he suggests keeping safety in mind.

“Have fun, don’t be afraid to go anywhere, I think you should still go places if you want, just be safe when you do it,” Delgado added.

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For people like Alves, many bars across town are planning New Year’s Eve parties.

The Wreck in Jax Beach is expecting hundreds of people. Owner Fernando Meza says while guests and staff are strongly encouraged to mask up and socially distance, they’re not required to.

Meza feels most people are taking the right safety measures while still having fun.

“This past weekend with the holidays, a lot of people were being precautious; that’s fine by me,” Meza explained.

1904 Music Hall will be hosting a New Year’s Eve event. A manager there told Action News Jax things will be normal.

Places like Ruby Beach are having people both inside and outside to help spread out the crowd.

Action News Jax asked the city about any safety plans with the crowds during COVID-19, and if the city has plans to open more testing sites following the holiday. A spokesperson responded to an email we sent, but did not answer those questions.

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