Roanoke mayor scorns late night St. Patrick’s Day celebrations downtown

‘It’s not about the mayor taking away your fun...what we want to do is save lives’

Concerns over large St. Patrick's Day crowds in Roanoke
Concerns over large St. Patrick's Day crowds in Roanoke

ROANOKE, Va. – Hundreds of people flocked to downtown Roanoke Saturday night to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, but Roanoke Mayor Sherman Lea believes their decision may set the city back in its battle against COVID-19.

“We do not want another spread that could affect me, you and others if we have a spread in this city again,” Lea said.

Lea said while Roanoke’s COVID-19 vaccination rates are improving, they are not high enough in his opinion for gatherings as large as of Saturday night’s festivities. He says he will look to enforce COVID-19 capacity guidelines more harshly in the city after the celebrations.

“It’s not about the mayor taking away your fun,” Lea said. “That’s absurd. What we want to do is save lives.”

Lea said restaurants are liable to face punishment if they violated capacity guidelines on Saturday.

“I’m not reluctant to do that at all, because I think it’s serious, and people have to understand,” Lea said. “We have to stay the course and not give in to temptation.”