The city is canceling the parade — scheduled for Saturday, March 14 — because of COVID-19.READ MORE: Pittsburgh Weather: NWS Confirms Tornadoes Touched Down In Western Pennsylvania On Thursday Night
“The health of our residents and visitors to our city must be our main priority,” Mayor Bill Peduto said in a press release.
“This mitigation measure will help keep people in Pittsburgh and Western Pa. safe.”
The Pittsburgh St. Patrick’s Day Parade is one of the largest in the country with more than 26,000 participants and 300,000 lining the parade route.
Councilman Corey O’Connor, who has been marching in the parade since he was six years old, says canceling is the right decision.
“We get people from all over the world who come to town for this event,” says O’Connor. “I know they were coming from Ireland, we usually have some ambassadors. We’d rather be safe and cautious than put people at risk.”
The city cites the CDC’s recommendation to avoid large gatherings and keep a distance between yourself and others.
The state health department says the virus can spread through the air by coughing and sneezing or through close personal contact. It can also be contracted by touching something with the virus on it.
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All COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania are in the eastern part of the state. As of Wednesday afternoon, there were 16 cases in the state.
A news release says the city hopes to mitigate the opportunity for coronavirus to spread by canceling the parade.READ MORE: Protester Sues City, Three Pittsburgh Police Officers Claiming He Was Injured In Last Year's Protests
At a press conference to talk about the decision to cancel the parade, Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich says officials will be strict about the maximum occupancy in bars and restaurants.
“If they are one person over the bar will be shut down for the remainder of the evening,” he says.
The Harp and Fiddle’s David Regan says they’ll keep a close count on the crowd and will abide by the already allowed occupancy: “I understand the safety issues and concerns but people are going to come out, it’s a tradition in Pittsburgh and everywhere.”
The city is serious about reducing occupancy throughout the COVID-19 concern and is asking the law department to look into whether lower occupancy numbers can be mandated for public safety reasons.
City officials are asking anyone who is sick to stay home from St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.
Pittsburgh is following the decision of several other cities, including Boston, San Francisco, Philadelphia and even Dublin. Hissrich said it was a difficult decision to cancel the parade.
WATCH: Paul Martino Reports
Canceling the St. Patrick’s Day parade isn’t the only thing Pittsburgh is doing amid the coronavirus outbreak.
An international travel ban was put in place on all city employees on official work travel. There’s also a national ban, requiring written permission to travel.
In addition, meetings with more than 50 people have been canceled. The city cites CDC’s recommendations on “social distancing.”MORE NEWS: South Hills Village Mall Offering Active Shooter Preparedness Training To Retailers
Stay with KDKA for the latest on this developing story.