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Will we be able to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day 2021?

A line of bagpipers participating in a St. Patricks Day parade
Photo via GoToVan/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The coronavirus outbreak led to the cancelation of nearly a full calendar year of holidays and events in 2020. Now, one of the first holiday casualties of 2021 has occurred when cities across the globe abruptly canceled St. Patrick’s Day parades and events for the second year in a row.

Dublin—which holds the largest parade in Ireland, typically drawing crowds of more than 500,000—canceled its 2021 St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. Belfast has also canceled the city’s planned festivities, as lockdowns in Ireland and Northern Ireland have been extended through early April.

Instead, Dublin organizers have planned a six-day virtual celebration from March 12-17 that will be broadcast on a dedicated TV channel and website. The event will feature performances by musicians, artists, and marching bands. 

“While we cannot gather on the streets for the St. Patrick’s Festival Parade this March 17, we are reimagining how we bring to life the heart and soul of the national parade,” festival organizers said in a statement.

In the U.S., the New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade, which has been marching since 1762, will also be holding a virtual celebration to honor the first responders and essential workers “who have made enormous sacrifices this past year during the pandemic.”

In many other cities in the U.S., St. Patrick’s Day parades and events have been outright canceled for 2021.

Chicago decided against holding its traditional march down Western Avenue for the second year in a row. “We are working with organizers and communities to identify ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in a safe manner that aligns with ongoing public health guidance,” an early February statement from the mayor’s office read.

“After heartfelt consideration, the St. Patrick’s Day Observance Association has made the decision to cancel the 2021 parade and all events related to the parade,” organizers in Philadelphia said. “This decision was made with significant consideration to the challenges and concerns that we continue to face with regards to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Likewise, New York cities like Rochester, Syracuse, Binghamton, Albany, and Buffalo have all canceled events. “The UIAA has made the hard decision to cancel the Buffalo Saint Patrick’s Day Parade scheduled for Sunday, March 14th on Delaware Avenue,” the United Irish American Association said in a statement. “We take very seriously our responsibility to help flatten the coronavirus curve to keep our community safe.”

Will bars be open for St. Patrick’s Day 2021?

Even though most major events have been canceled, rescheduled, or moved to virtual celebrations, state and local mandates vary when it comes to the capacities of eating and drinking establishments. Depending on where you live, there is a good chance that bars will be open on St. Patrick’s Day 2021. Perhaps a more important question is whether they are safe to visit.

When patronizing bars and restaurants that allow indoor dining, it’s important to note the risk of exposure due to recirculated air. This air can help respiratory droplets and viral aerosols move about more freely. When people remove their masks to eat and drink, they are at a far higher risk of being exposed to these aerosols.

Even as cases trend downward in many parts of the country, spending St. Patrick’s Day at a bar surrounded by crowds could be a dangerous decision. The Biden Administration is working hard to ramp up the production and distribution of COVID-19 vaccine doses, so it shouldn’t be long before the U.S. begins to near herd immunity.

The green beer will still be flowing in 2022, so it may be best to sit this year out.

Sources: Travel and Leisure, NBC Chicago, ABC 7 News


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