Kingston area moves to curb St. Patrick's Day gatherings

The health unit in Kingston, Ont., is taking steps to try to stop March 17 celebrations from turning into a COVID-19 problem.

Green zone shrinking its gathering limits, restaurant hours March 13 to 21

Medical Officer of Health for the Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington Health Unit Dr. Kieran Moore speaks with the media on March 1, 2021. He used his powers to tighten rules around St. Patrick's Day. (Lars Hagberg/Canadian Press)

The health unit in the Kingston, Ont., area is taking steps to try to stop March 17 celebrations from turning into a COVID-19 problem.

Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington Public Health (KFL&A) is a green zone, the lowest level of Ontario's pandemic scale. That means private gathering limits of up to 10 people inside and 25 outside — more if they're organized, staffed events — and no limits on restaurant hours.

However, the region's medical officer of health said Thursday he's using his powers under provincial laws to tighten rules.

From March 13 to 21, the gathering limit will be five people both inside and outside. Businesses that serve alcohol have to close at 11 p.m. each night and have to stop serving alcohol at 10 p.m.

Singing, dancing and live music will not be allowed.

"Given the increasing concerns of COVID-19 variants, and the risks of potential spread of COVID-19 related to St. Patrick's Day celebrations, these measures are prudent and necessary to prevent illness and the spread of COVID-19," said Dr. Kieran Moore. 

So far four COVID-19 variants have been confirmed in that area between Ottawa and Toronto, one identified as the B117 variant first detected in the U.K., and the other three not yet determined.

Kingston has had problems with street parties around St. Patrick's Day in the Queen's University area in previous years. Last year, in the very early days of the pandemic, Queen's asked its students to reconsider attending large gatherings.

Revelers take part in St. Patrick's Day celebrations on Aberdeen Street near Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., on Thursday March 17, 2016. (Lars Hagberg/Canadian Press)

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