How coronavirus is affecting St. Patrick’s Day celebrations

(NEW YORK) — Cities across the world are deciding not to test their luck on St. Patrick’s Day when it comes to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

The National Retail Federation predicted two weeks ago that more than half of all American adults were expected to celebrate the holiday next week, spending more than $6 billion.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the cancellations and major changes to plans:

Ireland

The Irish government on Monday ordered all St. Patrick’s Day festivities throughout the country canceled in an abundance of caution over the coronavirus.

The country had 34 confirmed cases of COVID-19 but no deaths as of Tuesday, according to the Irish government. Irish officials said the various parties, festivals and parades, including the Dublin parade, posed too much of a risk to the public, especially with the number of travelers from around the world expected to take part in those activities.

“The main objective in the current phase is to limit and slow down the spread of the virus, to keep the number of affected people to a minimum and reduce peak pressure on the health service,” the government said in a statement.

Dublin’s St. Patrick’s Day festival was to begin on March 13 and run until the holiday on March 17, the day of the parade. The city’s tourism board said half a million people typically attend.

Boston

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced on Monday that the South Boston parade on March 15 would be canceled.

The city had one confirmed positive case and eight presumptive positive cases as of Tuesday morning. Walsh reiterated that the risk in the city remains low, but health officials don’t want to take any chances.

“Our top priority is preventing any new cases, to the best of our ability, and we are paying close attention to guidance from public health officials,” he said in a statement.

More than a million people attended last year’s parade, according to the mayor’s office. It’s one of the oldest St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the country, dating back to the 1730s. The mayor’s office did not have any specific guidance for private holiday events and festivities, such as bar crawls, scheduled this weekend and next Tuesday.

New York

As of Tuesday, plans are still on for New York City’s parade on March 17.

There are 36 confirmed cases of the virus in the city, according to the New York State Health Department. Mayor Bill de Blasio and parade organizers said they’ll be watching for any developments in the spread of the disease.

The event, which marches down Fifth Avenue, is one of the largest St. Patrick’s Day festivities in the world, with 150,000 marchers and two million spectators, according to parade organizers. The city held smaller parades in Queens and Staten Island over the last two weeks.

Chicago

Chicago’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade on Saturday is still scheduled, however, officials are taking extra care to help ensure public health.

“We recommend that anyone who’s sick or experiencing flu-like symptoms such as fever, coughing, shortness of breath or sneezing, NOT attend the event,” they wrote on the parade’s site.

The parade down Columbus Drive draws hundreds of thousands of revelers a year. The city had no confirmed cases of coronavirus as of Tuesday, however Illinois has 19 confirmed cases, according to state health officials.

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