With COVID cases rising, Bay Area restaurants and bars weigh staying open on New Year's

As cases of COVID19 driven by the omicron variant continue to spike across the Bay Area, some bars, restaurants, and clubs, hosting New Year's Eve events are debating whether to still hold them. 

From staff shortages to people canceling their party reservations, a number of establishments are facing challenges as the New Year approaches.  

"We’re definitely nervous," said Tyler Hobbs, who manages Club 1220 in Walnut Creek, which is hosting a New Year's celebration. "We’re definitely going to keep an eye on it. We still have like three or four more days."

For now, his staff is preparing for business as usual.

"I think New Year's Eve will turn out OK," said Mariko Sturgess, Club 1220 assistant manager. "We do have a champagne toast, we have a great DJ that will be here, and we’re hoping to just have a fun, safe time."

Staff say the event will provide a much-needed source of revenue for the club after being hit hard during the pandemic.

"Our sales are down like 75 percent for the most part," said Hobbs.

MORE: San Francisco New Year's Eve fireworks display canceled due to omicron variant surge

The club says it will be following all the required COVID-19 protocols during the event, but if cases spike even more dramatically, they may reconsider holding it.

"Our safety and the customer’s safety is absolutely more important than having New Year's," said Sturgess.

In Oakland, the Elbo Room canceled its New Year’s live concert with band, the Helltones after watching COVID-19 numbers rise. 

Across the Bay in San Francisco, bar, Moby Dick in the city’s Castro district, also decided to cancel its New Year's Eve festivities and close through Jan. 1. 

As for restaurants, The Golden Gate Restaurant Association says most are still planning to move ahead with their New Year's plans.

"Folks are going to try to do a celebration if possible and let customers safely dine and drink and celebrate," said Laurie Thomas, executive director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association.

And Thomas says the restaurants that are closing, are largely those which are facing staffing shortages.

"Folks who are having to shut down temporarily, it's because their staff is just not available to work, they’re testing positive for Covid."

And other restaurants, Thomas says, are likely still dealing with long term industry staff shortages. After a difficult year Thomas says it's more important than ever to patronize them.

"Our industry has been just decimated and is just struggling, so you know if you want to order takeout to go, you want to go out and dine, you want to sit outside, bring your winter coat. It would be great if people could safely support our restaurants, bars and event venues that are staying open," said Thomas.

Back in Walnut Creek, Torsap Thai Kitchen says it's hoping that its New Year's party will still go ahead as planned, but has fielded 20 calls from people who now want to stay home.

"Yeah they just canceled. Some, they are nervous, some they have symptoms," said Neo Vuiriak, Torsap Thai Kitchen manager.

Vuiriak says they will likely make a final decision on whether to hold their New Year's Eve celebration on Thursday.