Detroit bars ready for weekend, St. Patrick's Day festivities and waiting on latest coronavirus news

During the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, will people fill bars and nightclubs this weekend and on St. Patrick's Day? Mayor Mike Duggan is urging people not to do so but bar owners are still preparing for the weekend the holiday.

At the Old Shillelagh, tents are being set up that would normally hold 3,000 people. Combine that with another 500 that could be inside the bar and you're looking at way more than the 250 max that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered earlier in the day on Friday because of the coronavirus.

Her executive order banned all gatherings of more than 250 people but owner Shellie Lewis said they're still planning for a good time.

"We're just taking it as we get news. We're just operating as usual for now and planning our party and hoping everybody comes out to have a good time with us," Lewis said.

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She spends thousands of dollars to put on the party every year - and it usually brings thousands of dollars in - but they're wondering if the tents will be full this year.

The beer is stocked, the temporary bars are prepped and the Old Shillelagh is ready - if they can have their usual party.

"Every day is a little unsettling right now - not to know what to expect," Lewis said. "We're just waiting to hear from the city and hear how to handle everything - safely for everyone."

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At Nemo's in Corktown, the Irish are already celebrating and the bar is expected to be packed, even though the St. Patrick's Day Parade was canceled.

"Be cautious, be smart, clean your hands, use your sanitizer, be respectful of other people and we'll be fine," owner Pat Springstead said.

He's still expecting a big crowd despite recommendations to observe social distancing.

With 16 people (as of 5 p.m Friday) presumptively positive for coronavirus, changes may have to be made. Sheila Cassidy, co-chair of the Detroit United Irish Societies, had planned to go to mass Sunday and Tuesday but the Archidiocese has canceled public masses. It's unclear just how much more will be canceled as the crisis continues.

"I think people should just start living their life, continue to live their life, wash their hands and be smart about it," Cassidy said.

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