Students hit the bars to watch Illini basketball, causing health officials to worry

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Champaign, Ill. (WCIA) —

“Some people take it seriously, some people don’t, so it really depends on the people you’re with,” Student, Allison Winans, said.

Students were out watching the Illinois basketball game tonight, but that’s causing a concern for health officials in Champaign. Health officials say the pandemic is not over and urges people to continue to remember to stay safe.

Champaign Urbana Public Health District says if people go out without masks, stay indoors, and don’t follow Covid protocols, it heightens the chance of a major spreader.

“I feel pretty safe. I mean, I feel like we’re only really with our table,” Winans said.

Students hit the bars Friday night to cheer on the Illinois Basketball team, but this has health officials concerned of a super spreader.

“You are singing, or speaking loudly, or you know, cheering for your team, you are putting yourself and others at risk,” Dr. Awais Vaid with the Champaign Urbana Public Health District said.

Bars also have to do their best to abide by Covid-19 protocols. Joe’s Brewery in Champaign is trying to allow students to have fun, while staying safe.

“We do our job to get everyone to follow rules, and I mean everyone is still out here having a good time so its good,” Colin Pushic, with Joe’s Brewery, said.

Meanwhile, Esquire Lounge is doing the same.

“It is limited seating. We don’t have bar seating at this time, and we are requiring people be seated by us,” Jaclyn Sampson, owner of Esquire Lounge, said.

Before the game started, they were expecting to even have to turn people away to abide by 50 percent capacity rules.

“Its frustrating. It’s hard to turn people away from your business, but we can’t have people standing,” Sampson said.

“I think its awesome that we can do this and enjoy Illinois basketball, while being safe as well and enjoying it with our friends,” Colin Milat, with Joe’s Brewery, said.

Even if bars and people abide by Covid protocols while out, health officials say staying home is the best way to ensure safety.

“We do know that Covid is still around, and we also know that the variant of Covid, B117, which is spreading much more faster than the regular Covid, is also around on campus. And we see cases almost every day,” Dr. Vaid said.

Health officials say if you do go out, go get a Covid test. They say this way you can know your status and then quarantine and limit the spread.

The University of Illinois has a party patrol trying to break up parties that may be breaking Covid protocols. Students can receive punishment and possibly be dismissed if they are breaking any Covid school rules.

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