'Better than nothing': Windsor revellers soak in the sun during physically distanced St. Patrick’s Day
WINDSOR, ONT. -- While the official recommendation from the health unit was “stay home” for St. Patrick’s Day, people pridefully donned their greenest attire at Windsor bars and restaurants for a COVID-19 subdued St. Patrick’s Day celebration.
“The sun is shining, the beer is cold, not much else ya want now, do ya?” says Mitchell Bedard, who came out to O’Maggio’s Kildare House for a few morning pints. “Good friends, good company, can’t go wrong.”
The feeling is mutual for Peter Schofield, who shared a few green beers on the patio at Bull and Barrel Wednesday afternoon.
“We can actually go out! Last year, we were stuck at home, and this is better than nothing,” says Schofield.
Same goes for Suzanne Jansen, who plans to bar hop to a number of different locations.
“We’re glad everything’s open at least,” Jansen says. “We can get out and do something, get out for a few green beers, enjoy the beautiful weather, and celebrate the best day of the year.”
Current restrictions in the red-zone of Ontario’s Reopening Act restrict indoor capacity at 10 people, leaving many bars and restaurants wishing for better days ahead. But those with outdoor patios are trying to fit as many as they can, while also ensuring safe physical distancing.
“It just is what it is,” says Kendalyn Johnston, a server and bartender at Kildare House. “Everyone’s in the same boat right now, so just trying to make do with what we’ve got. We’re really trying to crack down, keep that limit, because we do want people to get out and celebrate but we want to keep them safe.”
Not everyone was thrilled with the lack of people able to gather at bars.
Kristin Jaksic recalls years where the lineup was wrapped around the block and people crammed into bars shoulder-to-shoulder, dancing and singing to live Irish jigs.
“There’s usually hundreds of people in here,” Jaksic laments. “Not going to lie, it’s a little bit sad.”
“It’s terrible! It’s way more fun when you have a few friends around,” says her friend, Jenn Renaud.
But the pair felt it was important to celebrate anyway — if for no other reason than to support local.
“Because it is COVID, 2021, we have to support our local businesses,” Jaksic says.
The health unit confirms to CTV News they will have tobacco enforcement officers patrolling around the bars and patios today to ensure proper physical distancing, and adherence to public health measures and capacity limits.
“A year later, we all know what we need to do to minimize the spread and decrease any chances of transmission,” says Theresa Marentette, the CEO of the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit. “They will be out and about today, and this evening.”
That’s no problem, according to Andrew Corbett, the co-owner of Bull and Barrel. The unseasonably warm March day meant their patio was a big draw, and they have the capacity to serve many people. Their outdoor patio fits 22 tables of four, and they’re booked full for the day, turning over every two hours.
“We pride ourselves at all of our properties, on following the rules that are set out for us to follow and make sure that everyone’s happy and stay safe,” Corbett says.