Coronavirus: New St. Patrick’s Day health orders aim to curb gatherings, parties

If you host a large gathering the week of St. Patrick’s Day, it won’t be a pot of gold that you find at the end of the rainbow.

KFL&A Public Health has issued a new set of public health orders that will be in effect from Mar. 13-21, hoping to put a stop to large gatherings and parties for St. Patrick’s Day.

Read more:
Coronavirus: Kingston officials warn of fines for gathering over St. Patrick’s Day week

These new orders for businesses that serve alcohol include:

  • They shall be closed between 11 p.m. to 5 a.m.
  • Only sell and serve alcohol between 12:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. No consumption of alcohol is permitted in the business between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 12:00 p.m.
  • Require all patrons to be seated when served. Pick up and take out is exempt.
  • Require all patrons to seat only 5 persons to a table.
  • Collect contact information from persons seated.
  • Not allow dancing, singing and live performances of music. Volume of music must be low enough to allow for normal conversation.
  • Ensure line up management follows the capacity limits, 2 metres physical distancing, and masking regulations.

KFL&A Public Health says that any failure to comply with this class order can result in fines of up to $5,000 for individuals, and $25,000 for corporations for every day or part of a day on which the offence occurs or continues.

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“Last year before we went in lockdown, there was significant social activity associated with St. Patrick’s Day, and it did put our community at risk,” says Dr. Kieran Moore, Kingston’s medical officer of health.

We don’t want to attract people to Kingston and then have street parties and or a lot of social activity during this week.”

These orders have thrown a slight wrench into the plans of local pubs and bars, but they are taking these new restrictions very seriously.

“We were planning on opening at nine and having an Irish breakfast, that was really the only change for us,” says Bruce Clark, owner of the Toucan & Kirkpatrick’s Irish Pub.

Read more:
Arrests made under Kingston’s ‘Nuisance By-Law’ at St. Patrick’s Day street party

Capacity limits are a usual issue on a normal St. Patrick’s Day and now that capacity has been significantly reduced, bars are expecting long lines and spillover into the streets. This puts an extra responsibility on staff, who have to make sure the people who are inside and outside their establishment are having a safe time.

“It’s up to us in the bar to maintain that,” says Clark.

“If you kick everybody out of the bar, they’ll be doing it unsupervised somewhere else.”

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Those people often find themselves on Aberdeen Street, the site of large street parties during St. Patrick’s Day and homecoming. There was a large street party on Mar. 14 last year, just as the coronavirus pandemic was beginning.

Queen’s University is prepared this year, according to a written statement from Provost & Vice Principal Mark Green, issued on Thursday.

“The university has confirmed with KFL&A Public Health that the 5-person gathering limit does not apply to residents of your own household,” reads the statement.

“That is, if you live with seven other individuals, you are permitted to gather, however you cannot add additional non-household members. If your household only has four people, you could add one additional non-household member to the gathering.”

Kingston police say they will be sending out extra patrols to the Queen’s area on St. Patrick’s Day.

Police will be allowed to fine partiers under the Nuisance Party Bylaw, Noise Bylaw or Liquor License Act, and fines range from $880 to $10,000.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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