CHICAGO — City officials are putting bars on notice about preventing crowds from gathering for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

Chicago’s liquor control commissioner sent a certified letter to license holders reminding them to enforce capacity limits, reminding businesses:

  • 50% capacity or 50 people per room or floor with tables spaced six feet apart
  • Customers have to remain seated
  • Dancing and other congregating are not allowed
  • Reservations are strongly encouraged and the restaurant staff is responsible for making sure people are wearing masks.
  • Patrons waiting in line must remain socially distanced

Last year, crowds gathered shoulder-to-shoulder at bars and restaurants in Chicago, despite the raging pandemic.

Kevin Vaughan, co-owner of Vaughan Hospitality Group, says his restaurants like Emerald Loop on Wabash will strictly enforce COVID-19 rules.

“I’m very concerned that we do this weekend safely,” he said. “We protect the public. We protect our employees and follow the rules. We will be very strict controlling the line, not allowing to build up outside.”

City officials say they want to avoid a repeat of that scene. The city has also canceled both St. Patrick’s Day parades this year.

“Last year at this time, I was confidently predicting that at Patrick’s Day 2021, we would be back to normal,” said 2ns Ward Aldermen Brian Hopkins. “Obviously, that’s not the case.”

Alderman Hopkins tells WGN he is also concerned about unauthorized gatherings. 

“It’s the unlicensed parties and underground events that are the cause for concern,” he said. “People are having their own parties, booking hotels and Airbnb sites. It has the potential to get out of control and we have to make sure that doesn’t happen.”