Fewer punters than usual dancing away St Patrick's Day

St Patrick's Day festivities in Ireland may have been cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak, but that hasn't stopped a few dedicated Christchurch residents from heading to their local Irish pub to celebrate.

Punters gathered at Irish pubs, Bailie's Bar and The Bog, on Tuesday to celebrate the day. Edgeware resident Mike Poulter has been coming to Bailie's Bar for the last few years and says the outbreak did not put him off celebrating today, but people were still concerned about it nonetheless.

"Since it's not here yet, people aren't so worried about coming out, but last year this place was chockablock and the turnout today is nowhere near what it used to be like," said Mr Poulter.

"I think it's [coronavirus] a bigger threat than we think, but until something happens here it's not going to put everyone off from celebrating today."

Social distancing guidelines in Ireland forced bars and restaurants to close days before St Patrick's Day for the next two weeks, followed by the cancellations of public parades and festivals.

Although this is not the case yet here in New Zealand, Mr Poulter believed many were bracing themselves for further restrictions and potential self-isolation.

The Bog also had a lively crowd on Tuesday with many tables filled, but Ann Kilgour noticed there were fewer punters than usual and believes coronavirus fears are to blame.

"I've been here in previous years and there was a lot more people, so I do think it's had an impact on the number of people who have turned up today," she said.

"In general, I've already noticed in the last couple of days a drop-off in the number of people on the streets."

Originally a religious festival for St Patrick of Ireland, the day commemorated the arrival of Christianity in the country and celebrates Irish heritage and culture.






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