Memphis bars brace for Super Bowl as experts urge against gatherings


MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Health experts are encouraging people to watch the Super Bowl from home with family members, but even they acknowledge that won’t deter many from inviting friends over or attending public viewings.  

Several Memphis bars are planning to show the game, but say they’re taking precautions against COVID-19 transmission. 

At Loflin Yard, all four television screens will be tuned to the matchup between the Chiefs and Buccaneers. 

“The last Super Bowl, it was wild out here. We had loads of people in our decks and inside,” said manager Jess Ajoc.  

But with space limited this year due to COVID-19 restrictions, football fans are being encouraged to pick a table outside, wear masks and stay six feet apart from one another. 

“It’s not hard to socially distance here. We’ve got loads of space,” said Ajoc, pointing to Loflin’s ample outdoor seating.  

At Memphis Sports Pub in east Memphis, the staff is also reimagining Super Bowl Sunday. 

“I’ll have to do a lot more policing, make sure people are staying socially distanced. Normally we have a potluck dinner upstairs for everybody and that won’t happen,” said owner Randy Hicks.  

Infectious disease experts are still cautioning against in-person gatherings. 

“The safest way still right now is to do a virtual kind of gathering,” said Dr. Steve Threlkeld with Baptist Memorial Healthcare.  

But if you’re determined to gather to watch the Super Bowl, Threlkeld says it’s best to opt for somewhere with plenty of space and ventilation. 

“A larger restaurant situation may be safer, because you can stay farther apart from people than you likely can with a bunch of people coming to your house,” said Threlkeld.  

After a year of lockdowns, COVID restrictions and dwindling sales, some businesses are grateful for any customers they get Sunday in hopes the Super Bowl can be even a fraction of the moneymaker it once was. 

“Normally we’ll do $3,000 to $4,000. If I do $2,000 I’ll be happy,” said Hicks.  

A 10 p.m. closing time and 50% capacity limits remain in effect for restaurants and bars in Shelby County. 

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