Students in Guelph and Waterloo Mostly Heed Advice on St. Patty’s Parties

Guelph Police Service took an unusual step for a post-St. Patrick’s Day report and thanked the public for being dedicated enough to stop the spread of COVID-19 by not holding big outdoor gatherings. According to the daily report from Guelph Police, they answered 40 per cent fewer calls yesterday over St. Patrick’s Day 2019.

“The Guelph Police Service would like to thank the people of Guelph, specifically the University of Guelph community, for their restraint in celebrating St Patrick’s Day,” said Police in the release. “The Guelph Police Service experienced a significant decrease in calls for service over the last 24 hours in comparison to the same time in previous years.”

On Tuesday, Guelph Police responded to 152 calls in a 24-hour period, which was down from 257 in 2019, and way down from a peak of 321 calls in 2018, when St. Patrick’s Day landed on a Saturday.

There were concerns in advance of St. Patrick’s Day that despite the warnings about social distancing and limiting contact with large groups that big parties would take place regardless.  University of Guelph President Franco Vaccarino made a personal plea to students to let the occasion pass, and keep up self-isolation measures.

This is an unprecedented situation that calls on each of us to make changes to our typical routines. Together we can show our support and care for each other and our community,” Vaccarino said.

Another big point of concern was taken off the table late Monday night when Partytown announced that they were cancelling their St. Patrick’s Day festivities. Partytown, which covers the Palace, Taphouse, Trapper’s Alley, and Tabu, is one of the biggest night spots in the city, and is highly popular with U of G students. After the Medical Officer of Health for Ontario suggested keeping gatherings to 50 people or under on Monday night, Partytown posted this on Facebook:

Concerns were even more dire in Waterloo where an annual unsanctioned street party attracts tens of thousands of people from not just nearby University of Waterloo and Wilfred Laurier University, but from schools all around Ontario. However, instead of the expected 33,000 people or more, the streets of Ezra Avenue were a proverbial ghost town as students seemed to heed the warnings.

“Thank you for rising to the occasion. Thank you for putting the health of our community, the care of our citizens as our top priority and your top priority,” said Waterloo Region Police Chief Bryan Larkin in a web address.

“We’ve been working very hard over the last number of days, and weeks and in fact months to ensure a safe festivities. But in the last 7 days much has changed. We’re in uncharted territory, unprecedented times and what we saw today was an unprecedented community response.”

Larkin, Waterloo Region Chair Karen Redman, and Waterloo Mayor Dave Jaworsky all made emphatic pleas on Monday for everyone to stay away from Ezra Avenue as Waterloo Region Police were prepared to break up any crowd that might materialize.

While all was well in our area, the same could not be said at Queen’s University in Kingston. Global News reported from the scene where one reveler said that he knew attending St. Patrick’s Day  parties would help spread the virus, and another said that she wasn’t concerns because she’s young and “takes supplements.”

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