As the 55th Super Bowl approaches, bars and restaurants in Nova Scotia have been hoping for a change in COVID-19 restrictions in time for Sunday. However, it’s likely not in the province’s playbook.
For Colin Grant of Midtown Tavern, he’s betting on Kansas City to win. “But I hope it’s a close game. I hope it’s entertaining,” he says.
While he’s assured of his Super Bowl prediction, one bet he hopes he’s wrong about is the number of people who will come to his bar to watch the big game.
“There’s gonna be 10 or 12 people here cause you can’t guarantee you’re going to see the whole game,” says Grant. “We can’t service anything after 10 p.m.”
Public health restrictions mean restaurants and bars must close at 11 p.m. and stop serving drinks by 10 p.m.
“Our biggest thing right now would be wanting that extra hour to be open in the night time,” says Grant. “Ten o’clock is hurting us, hurting a lot of places. Eleven o’clock would’ve been great for the Super Bowl.”
Current COVID-19 restrictions in Nova Scotia are in place until midnight on February 7 – which means any potential changes would happen one hour after bars and restaurants have to close for Super Bowl Sunday.
“We joked around and said people could wait outside for an hour, and then we’ll let them back in,” says Brian Kelly of Chain Yard Urban Cidery. “But yeah, we’re kind of in limbo right now.”
Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil says even when numbers are down, lifting any restrictions puts people at risk.
“I know you want to watch your kids play sports, you want to watch your kids gather at clubs, and lots want to go to a bar to watch the Super Bowl,” said McNeil during a press conference on Wednesday. “But each of these activities, while they may be fun, could be breeding grounds for COVID.”
However, those in the bar and restaurant sector believe some compromise could be reached.
“We understand what the province is trying to do, but we hope that they see the cases are so low we can eventually get more people in here, or extended hours,” says Kelly.
Meanwhile, some establishments plan to host watch parties even with the early closing times – hoping fans stay until at least halftime.