Winooski, VT — With the rising spike in COVID-19 cases, local restaurants and bars are scaling back their New Year’s Eve plans.

On a typical New Year’s Eve, the Mule Bar in Winooski counts down the ball drop at midnight and celebrates through the New Year but this year, they will close at 10 pm.

“We thought this year we should focus on making sure people have access to food and making sure our employees have access to wages,” Matthew Farkas, bar manager said.

Despite closing early, he expects to see a lot of people coming in and said it is important that they are open this year since they closed last year for New Year’s Eve.

“It’s important any day that you miss, you can’t make up down the line so we are just trying to stay afloat,” Farkas said.

McKee’s Pub and Grill will also be closing early on New Year’s Eve.

“We used to stay open because the state allowed you to stay open late on those days, but no late hours,” Lance McKee, owner said.

Unlike Farkas, McKee does not expect to see a crowd of people on New Year’s Eve.

“It’s that time of year the patios are closed, people are not wanting to go in as much,” McKee said. “I mean, we have our regulars that come in that are vaccinated and they are doing really well.”

Like other Winooski businesses, McKee’s follows the town’s mask mandate.

“You need to wear a mask while you walk around and while you walk in,” McKee said. “Once you sit down, you could take your mask off and enjoy yourself.”

Several other local businesses including Citizens Cider and Fiddlehead Brewing Company will also close early on New Year’s Eve. Some establishments like Three Needs have announced on their social media pages that they have decided to close altogether.