CHICAGO - Although events are being shut down because of coronavirus, there are still concerns about the crowds this weekend in Chicago for St. Patrick's Day celebrations.
Normally, St. Patrick's Day weekend is by far the biggest weekend of the year for the bars on Division Street, but due to coronavirus, that is not expected to be the case on Saturday or Sunday with both Chicago parades canceled.
“It's been an upsetting time for all of us because St. Patty's is THE weekend here,” said Marnie Grow.
Division Street is all dressed up in green for what is typically a massive St. Patrick's Day celebration. But a group of self-described "regulars" at Butch McGuire’s may not be able to spend this weekend at their favorite bar.
“I had friends coming in town that have all canceled now,” said Ally Frey. “I'm more like in the house-party camp at this point.”
“I have plans to see people, but I'm probably going to stay at home or at someone's apartment. I'm going to avoid the bars,” said Nathaly Shammo.
“St. Patrick's day is obviously the busiest day of the year,” said bartender Mike du Vair. “10 a.m., fully packed bar, line out the door until 5 in the morning…but we're definitely expecting a smaller crowd this year.”
“We're as concerned as anyone else is,” said Butch McGuire’s general manager Matthew Czerwinski.
He says the bar plans on strictly enforcing its max capacity of 234, which does fall underneath the limit of 250 set by Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
“We're going to be very careful to make sure we're staying under that,” Czerwinski said. “We don't want to put ourselves or other people at risk.”
Meanwhile, the union representing the police officers tasked with handling any St. Patrick's Day crowds is calling on the Chicago Police Department to provide officers with extra disinfectant, spit-shields and gloves.
“Our members are concerned about it. We also know that they're willing to meet any challenge put in front of them,” said Fraternal Order of Police president Kevin Graham.
CPD says it is going to be working to get officers those extra supplies in time for the weekend and have a face-to-face meeting with FOP leadership on Friday.