VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – At The Shack on Virginia Beach’s Oceanfront, every hour starting at noon Thursday was New Year’s Eve.
“With the whole world experiencing the pandemic together, we would celebrate the world’s New Year’s Eve one hour at a time,” said Eric Emerson, general manager for The Shack and sister restaurants, Chix on the Beach and Waterman's. “As the time zones change around the world, we’ll celebrate wherever it is 2021 at that moment.”
5 p.m. EST meant it was midnight in South Africa. Other countries and cities were celebrated, including Bangkok, Paris and Ireland.
The "Cheers from Here -- It's 2021 Somewhere" party at The Shack was a creative and safe way for people to ring in the New Year while the popular outdoor bar hoped it would help them go out with a bang.
“It’s really been about adjusting and changing course and reacting on the fly,” Emerson said.
With COVID-19 restrictions in place, last call for drinks is 10 p.m., long before the countdown to 2021 even begins. Additionally, bars and restaurants are required to close at midnight, the same time the state’s curfew kicks in until 5 a.m.
Erin Husselbee of Virginia Beach was at The Shack and had plans lined up after the bar closed.
“We’ll just celebrate with our immediate close friends and watch the ball drop, drink some champagne,” she said.
Husselbee got an early start to the night, celebrating her 22nd birthday with friends.
“We’re staying safe,” she said. “We only have a 10-people reservation. The Shack only allows 10 and that’s the rule of the state.”
Some people bucked pleas from the Virginia Department of Health to celebrate at home and only celebrate with people in their own households.
Sam Lipsmeyer of Norfolk said he’s taking precautions and following the CDC guidelines.
“Most of the people that we’re hanging out with right now aren’t in immediate danger to the virus,” Lipsmeyer said. “They’re not in a vulnerable age group or anything like that.”
Over at Sky Bar on Atlantic Avenue, just up the road from The Shack, rooftop revelers were celebrating in their own bubble, booking one of four igloos for 90 minutes.
“It ended up booking out the full month of December in like the first two weeks we had it online, and now we’re well into being booked almost three weeks into January,” said Sky Bar Manager Samuel Lincoln.
All igloos are sanitized before each party and will be available to book until the end of March.
So long, 2020, and cheers to a happy and healthy New Year.