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“Everywhere else is shut down” out-of-town visitors defy COVID warnings to party in Atlanta


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    ATLANTA (WGCL ) — New Year’s Eve may be over, but celebrations continued Friday with out-of-towners packing bars and nightclubs across Atlanta.

CBS46 spoke with a dozen people waiting in line outside of oAK Atlanta in downtown. All of them said they were either from Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit or Philadelphia.

“It’s the party, the open environment,” said Travis Johnson, when asked why he and his sister were in town from Philadelphia. “We can’t do nothing in Philly, no social gatherings. Everywhere else is shut down.”

On Friday, Georgia broke its record for new cases for a second straight day, adding nearly 8,800 infections in 24 hours. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned the death toll in the U.S. could climb as high as 424,000 by Jan. 23. The predicted surge is being contributed Christmas and New Year’s gatherings.

Still, some visiting partygoers weren’t concerned.

“To me, you need to live, breathe, feel, be free,” Johnson said.

Early Friday morning, a brawl inside Republic Lounge injured at least seven partygoers, three of whom of were stabbed. An online flyer of the event appeared to show the party was for out-of towners ringing in the New Year in Atlanta.

Michael Obukwdle, who lives near the club in Midtown said he understands tourism brings in money, but with climbing coronavirus cases and deaths; he believes officials could be doing more to prevent the transmission of the virus.

“It’s almost like you have to force the hand of business owner, the citizens, to really understand the sooner we get on the same page, the sooner we can open up,” Obukwdle said.

As visiting partygoers return home, they also run the risk of spreading the virus in their own communities.

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