Bars prep for St. Patrick's Day a year after first coronavirus restrictions

Wild fans celebrate St. Patrick's Day in muted fashion on closing day for Minnesota bars and restaurants on March 17, 2020. (FOX 9)

The Governor’s first coronavirus-related closure orders came about one year ago, just as some bars and restaurants were preparing to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. After a year of being put through the wringer, many of the same establishments are preparing for the Irish holiday anew.

Sweeney’s Saloon, in St. Paul, is one of them. They just reopened yesterday for the first time since last November. Wednesday will be their first St. Patrick’s Day in two years.

Pete McCormick, the General Manager of Sweeney’s said he expects a high energy and "wild" celebration this year.

The shutdown went into effect at 5 p.m. on St. Patrick’s Day in 2020 and Sweeney’s didn’t open at all that day.

Now, a year later, McCormick said a loosened 75 percent capacity restriction doesn’t really help because social distancing remains in place. Still, he said his restaurant is ready for St. Patrick’s Day, but is nervous about managing crowds that they may have to turn away.

"I think we’ll do our best to stay within our capacity," he said. "But if all the tables are full, the seats are full, we’re full."

In the parking lot of the former St. Paul Sears will be a vastly scaled-down replacement of the annual parade, which was cancelled entirely one year ago.

The St. Patrick’s Association president said the static parade which parade-goers will drive-through is sold out. It was the best they could do, organizers say. The event will be livestreamed on Facebook.

One year into the pandemic, but nearing the end, St. Patrick’s Day celebrators hope next year is back to normal.

As for this year, the still-restricted bars just hope it is manageable.