Restrictions enforced for restaurants, bars on St. Patrick's Day as city expands checks, implements stiffer penalties

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Bars and restaurants in Chicago plan to have a more subdued Saint Patrick's Day this year compared to past years.

The city warns owners they could face consequences if crowds in bars and restaurants grow beyond what is allowed by COVID-19 guidelines.

"Green beer does not protect you from COVID, right? There is nothing different about St. Patrick's Day that means you should give up on the things that you would normally take from a COVID precaution," said Dr. Allison Arwady, Chicago Department of Public Health commissioner.

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Chicago officials asked people to celebrate cautiously while the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection remind bars and restaurants about social distancing rules. Party buses, boats and hotels have also been put on notice.

City investigators will expand their checks with a focus on stiffer penalties.

"We've communicated with all of them. They should know the guidelines, so if we pop in and you're having a party with a DJ and everybody's dancing, no masks, party is going to be terminated pretty quickly," said Rosa Escareno, Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection commissioner.

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A warning from the city of Chicago about St. Patrick's Day celebrations this weekend.

While the city would usually be fully celebrating with decorations, popular strips like River North are sparsely decorated. In Wrigleyville, Sluggers' owner Zach Strauss embraced mitigation efforts to keep customers safe.

"We want to be back to having our full occupancy, we want to get back to the way it was," Strauss said.

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Brendan McNeill, owner of D4 Irish Pub & Café, stressed the safety of staff as well.

"They're doing a job, and we owe it to them to make sure that we abide by the rules and keep them healthy and safe," McNeill said.

"It's going to be up to the police. We are going to need help to disperse crowds," Strauss said.

"We're here to serve. Hope everybody has a fun time and a safe time," McNeill said.
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