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Atlanta concerned NBA All-Star Weekend parties will bring COVID spike, possible violence

Police said officers have moved to 12-hour shifts and canceled off-days for officers assigned to the Field Operations Division to make it a safe weekend.

ATLANTA — NBA All-Star Weekend has begun but it will look very different this year as we keep fighting COVID-19.

While people won't be allowed inside State Farm Arena for the game, many are still planning on attending parties to watch the televised event.

Mayor Keisha Bottoms said there are no NBA-sanctioned events for the public that weekend. However, local businesses are promising their own star-studded parties.

The internet is littered with promos advertising NBA All-Star weekend events.

Café Circa in Atlanta is promoting a daytime rooftop party. At oAK Atlanta downtown, the club promises celebrity appearances. It’s the same for nightclub Revel Atlanta.

That has raised mixed feelings from Atlanta residents like Keymontay Riley and Matthew Traub.

"That's inevitable. There's always someone who comes and takes it home and gives it to somebody else," said Riley. "Everybody should really be safe, social distance, everybody just chill."

RELATED: NBA, Atlanta attempt to crack down on large gatherings ahead of All-Star Weekend

Meanwhile, Traub who is originally from North Carolina feels the opposite way.

"I don't think it's that big of a deal," he said. "People are outside every day, people pretty much gather here when they want to and when they don't want to. I don't think there's much regulation in Atlanta in the first place."

However, COVID-19 spreading is one of two concerns in the mind of Atlanta council member Andre Dickens.

"I know they want to feed their family and feed the family of their staff but at the same time I wish we didn't have the games here in a way that makes people want to come here and party and not practice social distancing and wearing masks," he said.

His other worry is the potential for a violent weekend. He said that every time a big conference or event takes place in the city, millions gather and, in the past, that has led to aggressive situations.

"Over the summer, many people from outside of this city were involved in shooting incidents and unfortunately some of them drove here or flew here and they went home in a body bag or a coffin because of unfortunate violence that has occurred on our grounds," he added.

RELATED: Atlanta Police announce safety measures ahead of NBA All-Star Weekend

That's why Atlanta Police announced plans to enforce safety measures.

Police said officers have moved to 12-hour shifts and canceled off-days for officers assigned to the Field Operations Division. It has also placed sworn administrative personnel on the street "to ensure maximum police presence,” Atlanta Police announced on Tuesday.

"APD will be working with Atlanta Fire Rescue Department, Fulton County Health Department to inspect nightclubs and will be paying attention to restaurants operating as nightclubs," said police chief Rodney Bryant.

The NBA is not holding any officially-sanctioned events this weekend and has sent out cease and desist letters to promoters who were using the league's name and logo to promote parties.

It also sent out about 100 letters to event promoters hoping to crack down on large gatherings.

11Alive has reached out to several clubs to ask about safety measures they have in place and are waiting to hear back.

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