US politicians in major cities are calling for bars and restaurants to close ahead of St. Patrick's holiday as partygoers ignore social distancing despite coronavirus spread

group partying hands in the air celebration


  • Despite the urging of public health experts for social distancing, people have still been going out to bars and restaurants across the US to celebrate St. Patrick's Day weekend.
  • As the coronavirus pandemic has claimed dozens of lives in the US, local government officials are increasingly calling for areas of social gatherings like bars and restaurants to be temporarily shut down. 
  • Hoboken, New Jersey became the first US city to institute severe restrictions in the past week while New York City's comptroller called on Sunday for a citywide shutdown of non-essential business, including restaurants and bars.
  • The governors of Illinois, Ohio, and Pennsylvania have also said such restrictions in their states are being seriously considered.
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People have still been going out to bars across the US to celebrate St. Patrick's Day, despite public health experts stressing the importance of social distancing during this coronavirus pandemic.

With no guidance from the US federal government, states and cities have been left to make their own call to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. Some prominent politicians have begun calling for bars and restaurants to temporarily close in order to slow down the spread.Advertisement

Guidance on going out amid coronavirus concerns ranges wildly depending on who you ask. 

"If you're healthy, you and your family, it's a great time to go out and go to a local restaurant, likely you can get in easily," Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif. said Sunday, adding, "go to your local pub."

In contrast, some local authorities are advocating for bars and restaurants to close down. 

Scott Stringer, the comptroller for New York City, called Sunday for a city shutdown of non-essential business, including bars, restaurants, and movie theaters. 

"We cannot go on with business as usual," he tweeted. In South Boston, Massachusetts, several popular bars voluntarily decided to close Sunday, even as lines of people began to gather in the morning for holiday celebrations. The Boston closures follow a curfew mandate that began Saturday in Hoboken, New Jersey, which included severe restrictions on restaurants and bars.  Advertisement

Several governors have also said they are looking into temporarily banning bars from opening in their states. 

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said state officials are "certainly looking at" closing bars and restaurants in Ohio. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker also said he is "looking hard" at such a decision, adding "we need to go on lockdown." 

"Nowhere in the United States really has there been a lockdown on bars and restaurants, but it's something that we're seriously looking at," Pritzker said Sunday on Meet the Press.Advertisement

Pennsylvania officials have also urged most businesses in several counties to shut down immediately, including restaurants and bars.

Outside of the US, several hard-hit countries have already placed such drastic restrictions on people's daily movements, including in Italy, France, and Spain. On Sunday, Ireland's leader have also called on all pubs and bars to close in order to curb the outbreak.

Some public health experts have called the US to follow suit. On Saturday, for instance, a group of health experts at the Center for American Progress including Zeke Emanuel, a top healthcare advisor to President Barack Obama, called on US states to take much more aggressive measures, including closing gyms, bars, movie theaters, and libraries in areas of community spread.Advertisement

Anthony Fauci, the longtime head of the National Institutes of Health's infectious disease unit, advised Americans to expect more restrictions in the future.

"Americans should be prepared that they are going to have to hunker down significantly more than we as a country are doing," Fauci said Sunday.