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Pittsburgh Cancels St. Patrick's Day Parade, G7 Summit; Recommends Limiting Occupancy In Bars

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Ariel Worthy
/
WESA
Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich advises bars, restaurants and clubs to consider lowering their occupancy rate in effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The city of Pittsburgh has cancelled its annual St. Patrick's Day parade and an anticipated G7 Minister's Summit, out of concern for the spread of COVID-19. It has also halted all domestic and international travel for city employees unless essential. 

Mayor Bill Peduto's chief of staff Dan Gilman said they are also cancelling meetings with anticipated attendance of over 50 people. 

"If you are sick, stay home," he said. "If you are part of an at-risk population, we encourage you to expressly practice social distancing and protect yourself at all times." 

Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said they are sending letters to bar owners throughout the city. 

"We're strongly urging that clubs, restaurants and bars to consider lowering their occupancy rates," he said. "We're currently checking with the legal department to see if we have legal authority to lower occupancy rates." 

He added that the Bar Task Force will enforce occupancy rate limits on Saturday. 

"If they are one person over, the bar will be shut down for remainder of the evening," he said. "Other recommendations include cleaning the bathrooms regularly, having soap and hand sanitizer available at all times, using disposable cups, keep high contact surfaces clean and instructing their employees if they are feeling sick to stay home." 

Hissrich said they will increase hand sanitizer availability and continue using portable restrooms throughout the South Side and East Carson Street during the weekend. They are also adding a shuttle to decrease the amount of people on shuttles. 

"We have no cases in Allegheny County as of yet," Hissrich said. "The steps we are instituting will hopefully slow down the wait as the virus spreads." 

The Pennsylvania Department of Health says there are now 15 COVID-19 cases in the state. The test results of two cases have been confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The other 13 are presumed positive results, based on analysis from the state health lab. Of the three most recent cases, two people reside in Bucks County and the third in Montgomery County.

Bureau of Emergency Medical Services Division Chief Richard Linn said they are prepared to put on additional ambulances as needed and to test people at home.  

"In most cases with the coronavirus, there is no need to be hospitalized, so we would be encouraging people to stay at home when possible," Linn said. "Our staffing is such that we can put our crews on additional schedules so we will have sufficient staff to staff these additional ambulances." 

Linn said there is no mandatory quarantine at the moment. 

The Pittsburgh St. Patrick's Day parade committee and the Irish Society for Education and Charity said while they are disappointed in the cancellation, they recognize the importance of the move. 

Born and raised in Birmingham, Ala., Ariel finally made a “big move” 45 minutes down the interstate to the University of Alabama where she studied Journalism and International Studies. During her time in college she interned with Tuscaloosa News, a daily newspaper in her college town. After college, she got her first job back in her hometown with Birmingham Times, a weekly where she served as reporter and editor. Ariel made an even bigger move to Pittsburgh and joined the 90.5 WESA family as digital producer. She is adjusting to experiencing actual cold weather.