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Arizonans reconsider New Year's Eve plans as COVID-19 cases continue to surge

Warnings from Arizona health officials this New Year's Eve are stern, advising against gathering in large crowds to ring in 2021.

The head of Arizona’s health department is encouraging people to stay home with their immediate families.

Over a dozen restaurants and bars are like The Churchill in downtown Phoenix, planning New Year's Eve parties, and they say they're taking all precautions to host a safe event to welcome in 2021.

Kell Duncan owns The Churchill and says a collaboration of small restaurants and stores are planning a New Year’s Eve bash. He says they did discuss whether to skip a celebration this year.

"We talked about it. Knew it was going to be different. We were toying with what to do and figured people would still want to have a space to gather and put this year behind us," he said.

A group of women said they're downsizing plans for New Year's and will skip the public gatherings.

"I think we are really not wanting to go out. Also, COVID. We don't really know the vibe so we’re just going to play it safe," one woman said. "I think the biggest factor is any venues that are doing New Year's Eve are outside you are socially distancing and breathing fresh air."

Duncan says he hopes people will come out and feel safe in their 8,000 square foot covered courtyard with 30 patio heaters and socially distanced seating. Masks are required while not seated and they’ve made other changes.

They’re hoping precautions they’ve taken will draw people in to welcome 2021.