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INDIANAPOLIS — For the first time since the pandemic began, Hoosiers will be able to celebrate New Year’s Eve without restrictions. It has bar owners rejoicing, and health experts asking partiers to remain vigilant.

“This is the first real New Year’s if you can call it that,” said Taps and Dolls owner Ryan Greb, “There are still many people who are reluctant to come out because of COVID. Ticket sales are moderate right now. This is the swing day when they start picking back up.”

Last year, downtown bars dealt with reduced capacities, and were forced to close early on New Year’s. There was a fear that Governor Eric Holcomb’s recent COVID briefing would lead to last minute restrictions.

Currently there are no changes. However, that hasn’t stopped some bars from adding their own protocols.

Taps and Dolls downtown is requiring all employees to test negative before coming to work on New Year’s Eve. They are already sanitizing the building ahead of their big bash.

“We wanted to take the next step to ensure the safety of the people around us, and our guests,” Greb said. “This will be our thirteenth year. It gets bigger and better every year. 2022 balloon drop on all three floors, free champagne toast at midnight, and a lot of party favors”

Greb added masks are not required, but the bar will have them available at the door. Health experts say Hoosiers should bring a N95, KN95, or a surgical mask if they are partying in a crowded indoor setting.

“Cloth masks are effective, but the surgical grade masks are more effective, and recommended in a large group setting,” said Brian Dixon Director of Public Health Informatics at the Regenstrief Institute. “If you are going to get together, do it maybe with a small group of people where you can control who is there.”

Dixon said people who have been vaccinated, and received their booster shot, can feel more confident heading out, however it is not without risk of infecting yourself or others.

“If you have a vaccinated group, especially those who are recently boosted, that is going to dramatically improve chances of cutting down risk,” said Dixon.