‘Buckle down,’ Jeffco health officer pleads as holiday events continue

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — As many Alabama cities host holiday events, doctors and health experts continue to urge people to not let up on COVID-19 precautions.

People gathered at Pepper Place Friday night for “Eat in the Streets” to enjoy local food, drinks, and some entertainment: a performance of the Nutcracker followed by a showing of the movie “A Christmas Story.”

Chilly temperatures aside, many people at Friday’s event say they felt comfortable being outside and spaced out.

“The chance to watch one of the greatest movies ever made and show off my pink onesie just couldn’t be missed,” Brian Berthiaume said.

Many are willing to continue following safety guidelines, even if it means celebrating the holiday differently than in years prior.

“We really have to change our behavior if we are going to have an impact in reducing the spread,” Berthiaume said.

Berthiaume says events like “Eat in the Streets” are a good way to help out local businesses.

“Pepper Place is a gift to our city. And I don’t feel comfortable going into any of these locations right now. And, if we don’t support these businesses, then they’re not going to survive,” Berthiaume said.

Though holiday events can be fun and entertaining, health experts and city leaders are pleading with the public to buckle down.

“It’s why we still have to do all of these things, wear our masks, socially distance,” said Dr. David Hicks, deputy health officer with the Jefferson County Department of Health, in a press conference Friday morning.

Experts say cases of the virus continue to rise in the state.

“Our hospital beds are filling up. Our ICU’s are filling up. They are running out of space as we speak. Our worst fears are happening,” Dr. Hicks said.

Berthiaume urges people to follow all the guidelines in place so everyone can enjoy a safe holiday season.

“It’s the kind of stuff that we just got to get creative about and make due. It’s going to be a sacrifice, but it’s worth it,” Berthiaume said.

“Eat in the Streets” continues throughout the day on Saturday.

People are encouraged to wear masks and socially distance.


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