Chicago St. Patrick's Day revelers turn to restaurant, bars after parades, river dyeing postponed due to COVID-19 outbreak

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago's St. Patrick's Day parade and river dyeing usually bring hundreds of thousands of people downtown every year, but concerns over the COVID-19 outbreak have canceled festivities around the city this weekend.

Some restaurants and bars stayed open to celebrate on Saturday, when the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Illinois reached 64.

Gov. JB Pritzker announced 18 new COVID-19 cases, including the first cases for both central and southern Illinois.

The newest cases come from Cook, Lake, Cumberland, Woodford, St. Claire and DuPage counties.

The DuPage County case is a woman in her 60s who resides at a private long-term care facility. The facility has been locked down to outside visitors, according to the governor.

The governor also announced his administration will file a federal waiver to expand Medicaid coverage as COVID-19 continues to spread.

Officials stressed that those who decide to celebrate to partake in St. Patrick's Day celebrations should use good judgement, remember to cover coughs and wash their hands.

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The Schoolyard Tavern said it's taking extra precautions to keep staff and customers safe from the virus.

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The Center for Disease Control says you should avoid large groups of people and stay at least 6 feet away from the nearest person.

The Lakeview bar said no one will be allowed inside Saturday without getting their temperature taken.

They're also using disposable cups, plates and cutlery until further notice, and will have plenty of hand sanitizer on hand.

The restaurant planned to cap its capacity at 88.

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Organizers and participants in this year's St. Patrick's Day festivities are disappointed that the parades have been canceled, but understand it's important for public health.

The decision to postpone activities comes following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and public health experts, city and state officials said.

"We all know what the St. Patrick's Day celebrations mean to us in the city of Chicago - but as elected leaders, we can't take any chances with the health of our residents," said Governor JB Pritzker. "Because of what we've seen nationally and across the world of the increased risk of large gatherings, this was the right call and I thank Mayor Lightfoot for her leadership in this difficult situation. Now that we've reached the stage where we're seeing regular new cases-reflecting additional spread within our communities-we have to make every effort to minimize further spread."

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The Illinois Department of Public Health has created a hotline at 1-800-889-3931. More information can be found at the IDPH website and the Chicago Department of Public Health website.
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