St. Patrick’s Day takes on a different form this year due to COVID-19

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Photo by Claire Gallagher

Many students celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at on campus bars.

A “cluster” of COVID-19 cases were found on the third floor of O’Donnel Hall last Friday. A day later, which marked National Marquette Day, many students were found at large gatherings.

However, as St. Patrick’s Day approaches, university spokesmen, Kevin Conway, said that MUPD will be bringing in additional officers in order to intervene on large gathers earlier in the day.

St. Patrick’s Day will also take on a different form this year for bars and restaurants across Milwaukee, as they must abide by strict COVID-19 regulations in order to stay open.  

Within these restrictions, customers are unable to get up while seated — unless going to the restroom — and must wear face masks when not at their given table.

However, some restrictions, like capacity limits, are dependent on whether a restaurant or bar has an approved COVID-19 Safety Plan from the Milwaukee Health Department. A safety plan outlines areas from workplace policies and practices that protect employee health to measures that ensure physical distancing. 

If a plan is submitted and approved, the establishment is able to operate at full capacity. If the plan isn’t approved, the establishment must stay at a 25% capacity limit.  

Trezor Johnson, general manager of the Irish Pub, The Harp, said the bar is currently operating at around 25% of its normal capacity due to lack of space. 

“To me, we’re not busy and it’s been a struggle,” Johnson said. “We’re down in not just numbers (of customers) but we’ve had to lay off a lot of people. The service industry hurts.” 

However, Johnson is expecting every available seat to be filled on St. Patrick’s Day. 

The Irish pub will host a variety of specials on the holiday including a live performance from Irish punk rock band “The Scrubbers,” green beer and Irish breakfast. 

In order for the bar to do their part in mitigating the spread of COVID-19, Johnson said The Harp has implemented a COVID-19 plan. 

“Our staff is always wearing masks, and there is a protocol for how we clean and turn the tables,” Johnson said. “I put on more staff to tell people to sit down and put on their masks.” 

Jeremy Strutzel, a senior in the College of Communication, said he appreciates the initiatives bars continue to take in order to make their customers feel safe. 

“Every bar I’ve been to has enforced their rules and haven’t let up,” Strutzel said in an email. “It’s good to know they’re trying to make everyone feel safe while enjoying their time out.” 

Although Strutzel is limiting his St. Patrick’s Day gathering to only close friends this year, he said in past years he has celebrated with friends, family and even “complete strangers.” 

“I love the atmosphere on every St. Patrick’s Day,” Strutzel said in an email. “Everyone’s always in a great mood and willing to celebrate no matter what day of the week it lands on.” 

Despite the spike in COVID-19 cases over holidays — like Halloween — this past year, Strutzel said he doesn’t see St. Patrick’s Day being as detrimental. 

“There might be a spike, but I don’t see it being as big as past holidays,” Strutzel said in an email. “People are more in tune with taking precautions and following the rules set by bars, restaurants, etc.” 

Matt Jones, a senior in the College of Business Administration, also said he’s not worried about a surge in cases after St. Patrick’s Day, as warm weather brings more opportunities for outdoor, socially distanced gatherings. 

“I intend on spending a weekend with friends, family and roommates celebrating the holiday while safely socially distancing and drinking beer,” Jones said in an email. 

Jone’s also said he appreciates the university’s efforts in providing a safe and healthy campus amid the holiday.

This story was written by Claire Driscol. She can be reached at claire.driscol@marquette.edu