Chicago officials are warning anyone who may be hosting or celebrating St. Patrick's Day that guidelines are still in place and will be enforced.
The city's Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection revealed plans to increase investigations heading into the weekend "and respond to complaints to ensure business compliance."
Officials urged residents to continue following public health guidelines and to avoid large gatherings.
“St. Patrick’s Day is one of greatest times of the year in Chicago, but as we enter the second year of this pandemic our celebration must look different than typical years,” BACP Commissioner Rosa Escareno said in a statement. “We have to stay diligent and commit to the regulations that keep our community safe. I expect our businesses to rise to the occasion this weekend as they have throughout the pandemic, but we will be prepared to take enforcement action if necessary.”
The city reminded residents that residential gatherings are limited to groups of no more than 10 people and restrictions for businesses remain in place.
- Capacity Limits: Indoor service for bars, restaurants and events is strictly limited to the lesser of 50% capacity or 50 people per space, and establishments must control lines outside their establishment.
- Everyone must wear a face covering: Face coverings can only be removed while patrons are seated and actively eating or drinking.
- Customers must remain seated: Patrons must be seated whenever eating or drinking or when ordering drinks. Under updated guidelines from the State of Illinois, tables must be spaced so that seated patrons are six feet apart, with no more than six people at a table in Chicago.
- Reduced Hours: Establishments must close for on-site service by 1:00 a.m.
“Chicago is making great progress in our fight against COVID-19, but we are still in a pandemic and the virus is still with us,” Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said in a statement. “This is not the year for large gatherings or parties. You can celebrate, but do so responsibly, which means wearing masks when gathering with people from outside your household, and practicing social distancing.”
The BACP said it plans to increase its investigation hours and respond to complaints from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m., beginning Saturday, partnering with multiple agencies, including the Chicago Police Department.
According to officials, small events are allowed at bars, restaurants or event spaces, provided they follow the indoor dining guidelines, and establishments cannot sell tickets to a St. Patrick’s Day event without a Public Place of Amusement License. The city said bar crawls and party buses are discouraged.
Last year, the holiday marked the beginning of the pandemic, with the city canceling its parade yet crowds still filling streets, bars and restaurants.
This year, both Chicago St. Patrick's Day parades have been canceled for the second year in a row this March due to the coronavirus pandemic, city officials announced n February.
"We are working with organizers and communities to identify ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in a safe manner that aligns with ongoing public health guidance," the mayor's office said.
Chicago's 2021 South Side Irish St. Patrick's Day Parade "will not run its traditional march down Western Avenue," event organizers said.
Instead, South Side Irish organization plans to hold a "Shamrock Our Blocks" event, a home decorating contest that encourages Chicago's South Side to dress houses, light poles and cars in St. Patrick's Day green.