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Jefferson City bars prepare for large crowds the night before Thanksgiving

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)

The night before Thanksgiving in Jefferson City is usually a big night for downtown bars, but this year may feel different amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The "bar guy" at J. Pfenny's Bar Mitch Rademan said it's hard to know what to expect for Wednesday night, but they are preparing for a large crowd.

"Obviously numbers are going up not only city-wide but state-wide, nationwide, but traditionally this is the biggest bar night of the year in Jefferson City, so we are preparing as such," Rademan said.

He said the bar is taking extra precautions this year, by taking temperatures at the door, expanding the bar and placing hand sanitizer at every bar station.

The dance floor will be open with a DJ playing music, and the bar is bringing on more servers for the night.

"The last few weekends is has gotten a little bit busier, so everyone has gotten a bit more prepared for tonight," Rademan said. "We've been planning for this for the last couple of weeks, we feel good about our game plan going into tonight."

His biggest concern for the night is keeping the peace, as tensions have been high in the community. He said they have extra security on staff Wednesday.

"At the end of the night we just hope everyone is safe and has an enjoyable time, and no shenanigans," Rademan said.

He said they will have masks for people to wear if they choose, but they are not requiring patrons or employees to wear them, because the city is not requiring it.

"Some of the employees have expressed that they will wear a mask, and that is completely their option and we support it," Rademan said.

Right now, masks are not mandatory in Jefferson City but are strongly encouraged by local leaders and health officials through an advisory. The city, along with Cole County sent out the advisory earlier in November, urging citizens to take precautions and avoid large gatherings.

For businesses, leaders encourage low contact shopping methods, curbside pickup, and increasing distances between customers in restaurants.

The advisory is not enforceable, and leaders discourage calling the health department with complaints if it is not being followed.

When asked about a mandatory mask order, Jefferson City Mayor Carrie Tergin said the only thing missing from the advisory is the punishment. She said people must follow the guidelines set in place.

While some businesses in downtown Jefferson City are requiring masks to be worn, others are not. Tergin said she expects people to wear masks regardless, and encouraged people to leave a situation if masks and social distancing is not being followed

"If you are somewhere, and you see people are not wearing a mask, then you should leave, and we really need to do that, it works both ways," Tergin said. "Certainly people should be wearing their masks at these businesses, and if they are not, then leave."

She also said people should ask others to follow the guidelines, especially close friends and families.

"That may be hard for people, because sometimes people may think it's not polite, and we aren't really accustomed to that," Tergin said. "They need to ask, and they need to make the expectation known to everyone that's around them. It's our responsibility to do that."

Tergin said she hopes for a more subdued night downtown on Wednesday that year's past. She urged citizens to rethink gathering this Thanksgiving to prevent more spread of the virus.

"Think about who you're around, and where they have been, and what your contact tracing list would look like if you had to trace who you've been around," Tergin said. "It's just not worth it, so maintain your distance."

Watch ABC17 News at 9 and 10 for the full story.

Cole / Jefferson City / News

Connor Hirsch

Connor Hirsch reports for the weekday night shows, as well as Sunday nights.

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