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The Banks' open-container zone draws big crowds, COVID concerns on first weekend

During its first weekend, The Banks' new open-container zone drew big crowds, Saturday, March 27, 2021, sparking some concern over COVID safety precautions.
Posted at 5:42 PM, Mar 29, 2021

CINCINNATI — As The Banks settles into its first full week as an open-container entertainment zone, some have already raised concerns about big crowds that came out for its first weekend as the pandemic stretches into its 14th month.

The 85-acre open-container zone opened March 25, and a spokesperson for The Banks said Saturday was one of the best days for business the bar and entertainment district has seen since the COVID-19 pandemic began more than a year ago. The seasonal weather also drew a large crowd after winter months marked by record snowfall and spikes in virus cases.

But she also said patrons should take advantage of the designated outdoor refreshment area's (DORA) size and continue to space out and observe social distancing guidelines.

"It's an enormous footprint," said Tracy Schwegmann with The Banks Public Partnership. "We certainly want folks, as they come down to the DORA, to be mindful of those health recommendations that are in place to help keep you safe."

Mayor John Cranley -- the chief political force behind redistricting the area between the Heritage Bank Center and Paul Brown Stadium -- celebrated its opening last week but Monday reminded visitors we're not out of the woods yet.

He said the city administration will keep a closer eye going forward on how visitors to The Banks continue to observe social distancing recommendations.

"[Environmental health director] Antonio Young, from our health department, he is going to be working with the restaurants here and elsewhere to make sure that we're cognizant of the physical distancing requirements as we come out of COVID winter," Cranley said.

Schwegmann said she feels confident that, as people get used to the new DORA, they will start to spread out and use more of its acreage.