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Ottawa’s St. Patrick’s Day parade cancelled — for now — due to coronavirus concerns

Ottawa's St. Patrick's Day parade has been cancelled amid novel coronavirus concerns. Irish Society of the National Capital Region

Ottawa’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade has been cancelled due to health concerns over the novel coronavirus.

This announcement comes in tandem with the news of a second confirmed case of the virus in the National Capital Region.

READ MORE: Coronavirus — 2nd case of COVID-19 confirmed in Ottawa

Sean Kealey, president of the Irish Society of the National Capital Region, says the decision to cancel — or, rather, postpone — the parade was following recommendations for social distancing and the advice not to have large social gatherings.

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Kealey noted the society had already cancelled all its other activities and was waiting to make a decision for the parade, but the organization ultimately decided it was not the right time to ask large crowds to come out and celebrate the Irish holiday.

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The parade was meant to take place on Saturday — three days before St. Patrick’s Day — starting at City Hall and ending at the Aberdeen Pavilion, where an annual party is held every year.

Toronto also announced Thursday that its St. Patrick’s Day, slated for Sunday, would be cancelled due to concerns over the novel coronavirus.

READ MORE: St. Patrick’s Day parade in Toronto cancelled over coronavirus concerns

Kealey said it was a decision he was disappointed to make, but it was a necessary one.

“I look forward to this all year,” he said.

Nevertheless, Kealey says, the society isn’t giving up on the parade altogether. If things calm down in the near future, the society is looking at throwing the parade perhaps later on in the year.

But for now, Kealey says the society’s priority is to protect the well-being of those who might have attended the event, especially older parade-goers who might have been put at risk in the large crowd.

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