How coronavirus is affecting St. Patrick’s Day celebrations

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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 cancellations and major changes to plans:

New York

New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, scheduled for March 17, was canceled late Wednesday, according to the governor’s office.

“Today I had several conversations with the organizers of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade to determine whether the parade should move forward in light of the evolving coronavirus situation and increased case count in the New York City area,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. “Following those conversations, I recommended and the parade’s leadership agreed to postpone this year’s parade due to the high density and the large volume of marchers and spectators who attend.”

The parade, in existence since 1762, had never before been canceled.

There are 352 confirmed cases of the virus in the city, according to the New York State Health Department.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, Cuomo and parade organizers had said earlier they’d be watching for any developments that could change that decision. Cuomo said he’s received warnings about going through with the event.

“If you listen to the experts, they say you should not have a St. Patrick’s Day Parade,” he told reporters at a news conference.

The event, which marches down Fifth Avenue, is one of the largest St. Patrick’s Day events in the world, with 250,000 marchers and 2 million spectators, according to parade organizers. The city has held smaller parades in Queens and Staten Island over the last two weeks.

Chicago

Chicago’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade, that was scheduled for Saturday, was postponed over coronavirus concerns.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot, health officials and parade organizers said Wednesday morning the risks of spreading the virus were too high.

“The health and safety of Chicago’s residents will always be our highest priority and like many other cities across the nation and globe, we are postponing this year’s parade as a precautionary measure to prevent any additional spread of COVID-19,” Lightfoot said in a statement.

The parade down Columbus Drive draws over a million revelers a year, according to Lightfoot’s office.

Organizers did say that it plans on rescheduling the St. Patrick’s Day events to a later date, including the annual green dying of the river, and would provide more details at a later date.

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.