Queen’s students told not to gather for St. Patrick’s Day street parties

St. Patrick’s Day is fast approaching and Kingston police along with Queen’s University and KFL&A Public Health, are warning students not to attend large unsanctioned street parties expected this weekend due to coronavirus.

Officials fear that the large street parties, seen in the last few years in the University district, could materialize in the coming days, which would increase the chances of people being exposed to COVID-19.

“If you’re bringing a large amount of people into a small area that is confined — and some of these people are bound to be from out of town — that really adds an additional risk factor, that we really think is unnecessary,” Koopman says.

In fact, St. Patrick’s Day parades in Toronto and Montreal have already been cancelled.

In Washington State, parades, concerts and festivals with more than 250 people in attendance have been banned.

“We’ve got to change our behavior,” says Dr. Anthony Fauci with the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “We have to essentially assume that we are going to get hit.”

“We want to be very conscious of the impact of St. Patrick’s Day on our health care system,” says Dr. Kieran Moore, Kingston’s Medical Officer of Health.

“We often see 100 patients extra a day in our emergency departments (related to St. Patrick’s Day). When we are trying to ramp up our services for COVID-19 and prepare the health system for any potential impact, now is not the time to be socially irresponsible.”

But despite the warnings from local, national and international health officials about gathering in large groups, there are indications on social media that St. Patrick’s Day celebrations will happen in Kingston’s University district this coming Saturday.

“To be honest, we didn’t think about it too much until probably yesterday,” says Queen’s student Jack Sivec. “With the NBA shutting down and the WHO (World Health Organization) declaring it a pandemic.”

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