Omaha Bars Prepare For Subdued St. Patrick's Day Celebrations With Up To 9 Customers

A bar in Omaha on March 17, 2020. (Bill Kelly, NET News)
March 17, 2020 - 12:37pm

Omaha has a long tradition of rowdy and crowded St. Patrick's Day bacanales, but this year promises to be the most subdued and controlled celebration ever. On a day when every bar is an Irish pub, the governor put a stop to the traditional standing room only crowds, with public events and gatherings limited to no more than 10 people

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"We hope our bar restaurant owners will be very responsible, and they will limit them on their own, and we hope they'll be responsible and understand why these things are happening," said Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert Monday. 

A sign on the door of an Omaha bar warns customers of the public event and gathering limits. (Bill Kelly, NET News)

If some operators push the limits, police have the authority to act against any place with a liquor license. Officers in Omaha will make the rounds for inspections and respond to complaints.

"If we get those calls or complaints, then we're going to go and we're going to talk to the business owners and hope for voluntary compliance, make sure they're educated on the directive of the governor," said Deputy Police Chief Ken Kanger. "And that's what we're going to try to operate with first and then we're going to look to see if there is any criminal statutes that we can enforce and if not, worst case scenario, we'd have to close the facility down. But obviously the cooperation of our business establishments and owners is what we're hoping for initially."

For Dr. Adi Pour, the Director of the Douglas County Health Department, there is only one responsible choice for potential customers at a time of historic disruptions to our daily lives.

"That's why we now make these uncomfortable decisions not to go to a bar on St. Patrick's Day," Pour said. "So the decisions today are very normal. I think we all can agree that potentially yes, we don't go to a bar. We don't go to a restaurant, we choose to have food delivered. We choose to have takeout. That's not a hard decision in my mind."

With Governor Ricketts' emergency order, that's a choice everyone else in the state must now consider. 

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