By Steven Graves

CHICAGO (CBS) — St. Patrick’s Day is looking a lot different this year with bars and restaurants not as crowded as in previous years.

But for those who do head out, you won’t be alone. Chicago business inspectors will be out enforcing COVID-19 rules.

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CBS 2’s Steven Graves reported Wednesday that so far, businesses are behaving. CBS 2 was told the focus was on last weekend. And there were more than 100 investigations citywide. When it comes to violations, the report card is good.

“Traditionally, it’s our biggest day of the year, and this year so far, that’s true,” said Chicago bar owner Bobby McGuire.

It’s welcome news for McGuire, considering all of the COVID-19 rules.

“Everyone knows what’s going on. There are not surprises anymore,” said McGuire, owner of Butch McGuire’s, 20 W. Division St.

Which could be why the Chicago’s Business Affairs and Consumer Protection inspectors only handed out one violation over Saint Paddy’s weekend.

The city cited Clutch Bar in River North for having 60 people inside, exceeding the 50-person cap. There were more than six people at tables that were not six feet apart.

The lucky charm for McGuire’s business success was having reservations.

“And letting people know that we had reservations,” McGuire said. “And we were sold out like a good week ahead of time.”

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Citywide, inspectors did 112 full investigations and stopped by 180 other businesses.

“We did hit the 50% mark, so we did have pretty good business,” said A.J. Castillo, co-owner of Americanos. “Obviously you want a little more.”

On Chicago’s South Side, a big party, like one last year outside of Americanos at 11060 S. Western Ave., is a thing of the past.

“Under the circumstances, they’re not going to allow it,” Castillo said.

No parade for a second year meant fewer crowds at bars on Western. But parade organizers switched to a home decorating contest: selling yard signs to bring in the green safely.

“All of the money we received from the sale of the yard signs went to local businesses who’ve supported the parade,” said organizer Tim McSweeney.

But this organizer is already vowing that next year that the parade will be back.

“It’s feeling like we’re slowly getting back to normal. And I hope by this time next year, we can put this all behind us,” said Morgan Park resident Allison Clifford.

CBS 2 has not heard back from the business cited. But the owner will now have a hearing to determine fines. Inspectors will be out again Wednesday night until 11:00.

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