CHICAGO - Hours away from what is usually a big day for bars and pubs -- St. Patrick's Day -- restaurant workers have a plea. They want to get vaccinated, but officials say that is still more than a week away.
Pubs like Butch McGuire’s are excited to host revelers safely this year. Some restaurant workers are also looking forward to the city moving into the next phase of vaccine distribution, because if all goes as planned, they will be among the next in line.
"It’s nice to be open on St. Patrick's Day this year, you know? I think it's a good sign of things to come," said Butch McGuire’s owner, Bobby McGuire.
From inside-out, Butch McGuire’s is decorated and ready for the green holiday.
"We’re booked, our reservations are full," Bobby said.
He says he will be strictly enforcing the city's rules, which include a 50% capacity limit, required masks and having customers remain seated.
Bobby says he has seen a boost in business over the St. Patrick's Day weekend and is hopeful that continues, as vaccines are on the horizon for Chicago restaurant workers.
"It’s one less thing to worry about," he said.
Chicago is expected to begin Phase 1C of coronavirus vaccinations on March 29th. That means Chicagoans 16 and older with underlying medical conditions and all other essential workers can get their shot -- including those in food service.
"There's nowhere near enough vaccine to vaccinate all of those people on March 29th, but people will be able to get vaccinated in April and May," said Dr. Allison Arwady, Chicago’s public health commissioner.
Roger Romanelli with the Chicago Restaurants Coalition says that is encouraging news, but feels restaurant employees should have been prioritized sooner and feels they need to be at the top of the list for 1C.
"If we do want to defeat the virus, if we want to make sure that we're focusing vaccines in a variety of neighborhoods, a very good way to do that is to get our restaurant employees at the head of the list," Romanelli said.
Dr. Arwady says more information about Phase 1C will be announced Wednesday.
As for St. Patrick's Day, the city will be out enforcing COVID-19 rules from 9 AM until 11 PM.