London

Green beer starts flowing early for St. Paddy's Day partiers

St. Patrick's Day revelers in London got down to business almost as soon as the bars opened, rushing to line up for a limited number of spots inside.

Police and city bylaw officers have pledged to be on patrol to hand out fines

Downtown London patios were bustling with students on St. Paddy's evening, as police patrolled the streets to ensure public health protocols were being followed. (Amanda Margison/CBC)

St. Patrick's Day revelers got down to business almost as soon as the bars opened, rushing to lineup for a limited number of spots inside London's downtown bars.

Almost all patios, especially those popular with the student crowd, were packed Wednesday afternoon with tables spread out to respect COVID-19 rules. 

London is in the orange zone within the provincial framework meaning restaurants can have up to 50 patrons, with a maximum of four people sitting together. They must close at 10 p.m., with liquor sales ending at 9 p.m. 

House parties also have limits, 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.

London police issue a noise warning to students on Central Ave. Wednesday afternoon who had set up a beer pong game on the lawn. (Sara Jabakhanji/ CBC News)

Police and city bylaw officers have pledged to be on patrol to hand out fines. Police were patrolling the downtown and around Western's campus where parties were underway outside. 

Police said they will be enforcing the law in regards to open liquor, underage drinking and city bylaw offences. They will also be ensuring the streets remain accessible at all times.

Early in the day, one local business owner expressed anger at the scene unfolding outside the Richmond Row store where lineups had formed. 

"We just closed our shop for the day because of the super spreader event happening down the block. Fortunately, clearly none of these idiots are our customers," a social media post from booksellers Brown and Dickson said. 

Patios in downtown London were full with tempuratures in the double digits Wednesday. (Sara Jabakhanji/ CBC News)

Under the Reopening Ontario Act those charged with failing to comply with gathering limits could face a $750 fine while those who charged with hosting a gathering exceeding the number of people permitted could face a minimum fine of $10,000.

"Our approach will be strict but fair, with officers ticketing or charging in relation to City By-Laws, Liquor License Act offences, Highway Traffic Act offences, Reopening Ontario Act offences, and Criminal Code offences," said Const. Sandasha Bough.

The region's Medical Officer of Health Dr. Chris Mackie has warned Londoners, and students, that now is not the time to break the rules.

A community outbreak involving Western students attending a house party has doubled in recent days.

Dr. Mackie said respecting distancing and masking rules is more important than ever as more contagious variants takes hold in Ontario. 

Barney's was another patio serving green beer in London on St. Patrick's Day 2021. (Sara Jabakhanji/ CBC News)

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