Coronavirus: Auckland's St Patrick's Day parade goes ahead despite other cancellations

The St Patrick's Day Parade is going ahead.
The St Patrick's Day Parade is going ahead. Photo credit: Getty

Organisers of the St Patrick's Day parade in Auckland are relieved the Government has given the event the green light, while other celebrations have been cancelled amid growing fears of COVID-19 coronavirus.

On Thursday, Mayor Phil Goff announced the Pasifika Festival had been cancelled as a precautionary measure after meetings with Jacinda Ardern, and other St Patrick's Day celebrations aren't going ahead around the world.

But St Patrick's Festival Trust chairman Russell O'Brien says as long as those feeling unwell stay home, there shouldn't be a problem at Saturday's event.

"If you are feeling unwell in any way please don't attend the event - that goes for both participants in the parade and also anyone that's coming out to watch it.

"If you are practising good, safe hygiene practices then it is all okay to come and have some fun."

He says it would have been devastating if it was cancelled as a lot of work goes into creating the parade.

"The event takes about a year's planning from a team of volunteers. It is an annual event and it is normally the biggest St Patrick's Day parade in the southern hemisphere, so there is quite a bit of planning that goes into it."

New Zealand's St Patrick's Day festival is one of a few which hasn't been cancelled. The New York celebration and Dublin's St Patrick's festivals are among those which aren't going ahead.

Niamh O'Keeffe, a dancer on the McCallion Irish Dance School float, says participants feel like the festival dodged a bullet.

"All of the things that Europe has had to do because of the virus and one of those things they've had to do is cancelling their St Patrick's Day parade in Dublin, Ireland itself, and that to me is crazy."

She says she and other participants are feeling for the organisers of the events which didn't go ahead.

But O'Keefe encourages Aucklanders to join the celebrations.

"There's dancing, there's music, there's Irish accents, there's Guinness, did I  say there was dancing already? I did, but that's the best part.

"It's one of my favourite days of the year everybody's either proud of being Irish or wanting to be Irish."