NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — It’s a busy night at the bar Wednesday. Customers are packing places in New Haven as they celebrate Thanksgiving Eve. Last year at this time of year, the pandemic forced many indoors, bars weren’t packed and people weren’t congregating.

Commissioner of the Department of Public Health, Dr. Manisha Juthani said, “So it is different than what this day last year looked like. When the pandemic was really taking off we were going through our second big peak here in Connecticut. So it is a very different situation now than we were in last year.”

Dr. Juthani says while places are getting back to normal, people must remain vigilant.

“Having said that, especially if you have a bunch of unvaccinated people in a bar together, that is a recipe for many people to get infected,” she said.

We caught up with Marsha Harrison and her friends at Christopher Martin’s Wednesday night. They were among dozens enjoying the Thanksgiving Eve nightlife.

Rob Rintoul, a patron, told us, “This is family, this is where you need to be with your friends. What good is life without friends? What good is life sitting away?”

Lorna Souza, another patron, added, “I’m gonna come out for a little happy hour with some friends and enjoy it over here and then I go home early and I work tomorrow and make it real, make a positive.“

But they’re playing it safe. Many are within walking distance from their homes and if they’re not they say they’ll be getting a ride to be up early for tomorrow’s Thanksgiving feast.