TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) — On Monday, the University of Alabama will play Ohio State University for the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship game. In Tuscaloosa, bars and restaurants are preparing for game watch parties.
For Tuscaloosa business owners, Alabama’s trip to the national championship isn’t a surprise. With seven wins underneath Head Coach Nick Saban, they’re used to it.
However, this is the first time the title game will be played during a pandemic. With safety guidelines in place, restaurant and bar staff are responsible for ensuring their establishments are safe places to watch the game.
At Buffalo Phil’s, they’re prepared for more customers. Silverware is replaced with single-use plasticware. The restaurant is installing plastic barriers between tables to ease their way back into full capacity.
“The name of the game is being prepared, so I wish that all of the other businesses would do all that we’re doing with all of the restrictions so that way, the staff, and the customers are safe,” said Christian Pierce, the restaurant’s general manager.
Pierce said the city of Tuscaloosa should do more to enforce the state and local COVID-19 mandates.
“I think some more enforcing with other businesses that haven’t been doing it,” he said. “I won’t say names, but I wish they could be on them harder bc we’re working so hard…”
At R&R Cigars, they are at half capacity. Their space allows groups to have their own space to socially distance from other groups. Like Pierce, R&R Cigars owner Reagan Starner shares frustrations that other businesses haven’t been held to the standard the city set.
“I wish the city had been enforcing capacity limitations the way they had talked about doing all year long,” said Starner.
On Friday, Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox posted a video message stating residents cannot celebrate as the city typically would.
“Our downtown, strip area, and other areas of entertainment activity throughout our city: It’s important for us to remember that we can’t have block parties this year,” said Maddox. “There will be a time and a place to celebrate, but this is not the time.”