Bar, restaurant curfew extended just in time for March Madness

Published: Mar. 18, 2021 at 10:27 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Because of COVID-19 cases trending lower and vaccinations ramping up, restaurants and bars in Kentucky will be able to stay open and serve customers an hour later. Beginning Friday, establishments can serve food and drinks until midnight, and stay open until 1 a.m. The extension is welcome news for sports bars as the NCAA Tournament kicks off.

At Banners Bar and Grill, the month of March is one of their busiest times of year.

“There will be people that want to come out and watch basketball. They do it every year. It’s what this time of year is,” said Chris Geisler, co-manager of Banners.

Last year there was no tournament. Indoor dining was shut down and restaurants and bars took hit after hit. Thursday was a win though, when Governor Andy Beshear extended service and hours by one hour.

“I think it’s good news for places who deal with capacity issues. Because the longer you’re open, people have more time to be here so they have more time for some people to leave a little earlier, and some people go out a little later,” Geisler said.

The 60% capacity and distancing restrictions are staying the same for now. That’s guidance owners in the industry are most looking forward to see lift, but they’ll take a win when they can.

“A year ago, there was probably a sense of panic, just in general amongst the industry,” Geisler said. “None of us really knew what we were facing, didn’t know how long, didn’t know a year later we’d still be where we’re at.”

And though the Kentucky men’s basketball team won’t be hanging another banner this year, the staff at Banners is just glad to see things getting closer to normal.

“This March I would think will be better than last March, even with Kentucky not in the tournament. As much as that’s disappointing, and isn’t beneficial to places like here. But we’re not limited to just take out,” Geisler said.

The governor says restaurants and bars also need to follow the current mask mandate.

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