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Benefits and risks: Indy attempts to balance more business and preventing COVID-19 spread during NCAA tournament

More people, more chances to spread to virus
Posted at 7:16 AM, Mar 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-23 07:18:44-04

INDIANAPOLIS — The Sweet 16 is set, and the next round of the NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament tips off on Saturday.

That means a whole new round of fans from across the country will descend on Indianapolis. While that is good for some local businesses, it's raising concerns for businesses as a whole trying to get through the pandemic.

Some fear the convergence of fans from across the country will lead to a spike in COVID-19 cases in the coming weeks with the possibility of increased restrictions because of it.

Mike Rittenhouse, the owner of Hero House Comics in Fountain Square, said he sees the argument for and against having thousands of people in our area for the NCAA tournament.

"When I heard they were going to do that, I was a little concerned about the pandemic, but I also thought having a little boost for the city would be helpful," Rittenhouse said. "Definitely good for restaurants and bars in the downtown area, I'm sure (are) benefiting from it. Other businesses? Maybe not so much."

Rittenhouse said he did have a few more people than usual come through his shop over the weekend.

Fans watching NCAA game

Huge crowds filled the Bottleworks District over weekend for watch parties. The big event at Bottleworks led to the Marion County Health Department issuing a notice of violation for not following current public health orders.

The Marion County Public Health Department plans to have more inspectors out than usual over the coming days and weeks in downtown to make sure businesses are adhering to the public health orders.

Rittenhouse said there has to be a balance as we continue living in this pandemic.

"I think it's important for our country to get back to living and back to some kind normalcy," Rittenhouse said. "But as long as people aren't following the rules, social distancing, wearing masks and getting their vaccines, it's going to take a lot longer for us to actually get there."