BACP Announces Plan for Safe and Responsible St. Patrick’s Day at Chicago’s Businesses

March 11, 2021

Coordinated plan focuses on education and enforcement to ensure public health and safety on St. Patrick’s Day and the surrounding weekends

Isaac Reichman    Office: 312-744-2523

CHICAGO – The Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) today announced a coordinated plan to ensure a safe and responsible St. Patrick’s Day celebration at Chicago’s businesses. Under this plan, all Chicagoans are urged to avoid large gatherings and, if they choose to go out, are expected to celebrate responsibly in small groups with social distancing and face coverings. The City is coordinating directly with businesses to ensure full awareness of the COVID-19 regulations and BACP will also be partnering with the Chicago Police Department (CPD) to conduct proactive investigations in entertainment districts and respond to complaints to ensure business compliance starting this weekend.

“St. Patrick’s Day is one of greatest times of the year in Chicago, but as we enter the second year of this pandemic our celebration must look different than typical years,” said BACP Commissioner Rosa Escareno. “We have to stay diligent and commit to the regulations that keep our community safe. I expect our businesses to rise to the occasion this weekend as they have throughout the pandemic, but we will be prepared to take enforcement action if necessary.”

While Chicago continues to make significant progress in the fight against the COVID-19 virus, the City is reminding all Chicagoans that we remain the midst of the pandemic. All residents and visitors are urged to continue to act cautiously and responsibly and to follow the COVID-19 regulations, including the requirement to limit residential gatherings to no more than 10 people. Additionally, bars and restaurants are required to adhere to the following regulations:

  • Capacity Limits: Indoor service for bars, restaurants and events is strictly limited to the lesser of 50% capacity or 50 people per space, and establishments must control lines outside their establishment.
  • Everyone must wear a face covering: Face coverings can only be removed while patrons are seated and actively eating or drinking.
  • Customers must remain seated: Patrons must be seated whenever eating or drinking or when ordering drinks. Under updated guidelines from the State of Illinois, tables must be spaced so that seated patrons are six feet apart, with no more than six people at a table in Chicago.
  • Reduced Hours: Establishments must close for on-site service by 1:00 a.m.

“Chicago is making great progress in our fight against COVID-19, but we are still in a pandemic and the virus is still with us,” said Allison Arwady, M.D., Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health. “This is not the year for large gatherings or parties. You can celebrate, but do so responsibly, which means wearing masks when gathering with people from outside your household, and practicing social distancing.”

While small events are allowed at bars, restaurants or event spaces, patrons must follow all of the indoor dining regulations during events, and establishments cannot sell tickets to a St. Patrick’s Day event without a Public Place of Amusement License. Furthermore, bar crawls are discouraged, and patrons that that are participating in bar crawls must adhere to all capacity limits and other COVID-19 regulations at bars and restaurants. Party buses are also discouraged, and patrons on charter buses must be seated while eating or drinking, with capacity limited to 50%.

In order to ensure compliance with these regulations, BACP has expanded its investigative hours and will be conducting proactive investigations and responding to complaints from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. starting this Saturday. Investigators will be partnering with the CPD Vice Unit along with officers from Police Districts with large entertainment districts for these missions. BACP will also conduct investigations through the Large Gathering Task Force, which targets illegal events at commercial and residential gatherings and through a team dedicated to public vehicles such as party buses. BACP will also deploy an active compliance awareness team to help businesses stay compliant through non-disciplinary consultations starting today.

“We want everyone to enjoy St. Patrick’s Day, but to celebrate safely and responsibly,” said Rich Guidice, OEMC Executive Director. “OEMC will be monitoring activity while working closely with BACP, the Chicago Police Department, the Chicago Fire Department and the City’s infrastructure departments to have the appropriate resources in place to ensure public safety citywide.”

The Office of Emergency Management and Communication (OEMC) has held multiple coordination meetings with City departments and outside organizations to ensure public safety and the well-being of residents and visitors for St. Patrick’s Day and the coming year as well. The City has also created a St. Patrick’s Day Flyer and is holding a briefing for all liquor licensees. Furthermore, BACP has partnered with the Chicago Police Department’s Business Liaison Officer’s to distribute a letter directly to businesses reminding them of the COVID-19 regulations.

"The safety and public health of diners and employees continue to be top priorities for Chicago's restaurants and bars,” said Sam Toia, President & CEO, Illinois Restaurant Association. “We urge all operators to adhere to local and state guidance and ask all patrons to celebrate safely during the holiday. Now more than ever, we need to protect the gains we have collectively made, and keep on the steady path to reopening and recovery."

While the City expects a high level of compliance over St. Patrick’s Day and BACP is prepared to take enforcement action if necessary, outreach and education remain the primary goal. To date, BACP has held 38 reopening webinars with 4,000 attendees and has also made over 34,000 outreach calls directly to businesses. BACP has also conducted 8,809 investigations and cited 462 businesses for violating COVID-19 regulations.




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