COVID-19: Hoping for a little Luck of the Irish

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COVID-19: Hoping for a little Luck of the Irish

Saint Patrick’s Day and the law

The law is pervasive.  With most people on the planet Earth in the grips of an imperceptible piece of non-biological contagion – the Coronavirus – the law has interceded in many jurisdictions to halt celebrations honouring the Patron Saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick.  As Global News reported, “[t]here will be no green beer flowing in Dowtown Vancouver as of a result of the City ordering “all bars and restaurants in the core to close”.

In Calgary, the legendary Ship and Anchor Pub closed as a result of the Coronavirus, citing the “health and safety” of its patrons as the reason for turning off the taps. The City of Calgary declared a local state of emergency on Sunday, which included, in part, constraining public gatherings to 250 people or less.

Mayor Nenshi recently declared that all Saint Patrick’s day celebrations are cancelled.

Other bars, pubs and restaurants have followed suit, including swill mills in Newfoundland, where Saint Patrick’s Day is a public holiday.

Legal Jeopardy for Transmission

On March 10th, 2020 the Department of Justice Canada said that while there are no specific laws in place to prosecute for spreading COVID-19, if a person knows they have the virus and intentionally acts in a manner to spread it, they could be prosecuted for “criminal negligence causing death” or “criminal negligence causing bodily harm”.  In short, criminal negligence includes anything that demonstrates a wanton or reckless disregard for the health or safety of others.  

With the threat of transmitting this potentially dangerous contagion, along with the threat of prosecution, it makes sense for businesses to close their doors and for people to ride-out the spread in their homes.  

Saint Patrick’s Day

With the diaspora of the Irish from their homeland, Saint Patrick’s Day (or the Feast of Saint Patrick) is celebrated in more countries around the world than any other national festival. Indeed, the Irish propensity for swilling intoxicants has become legendary. It has translated March 17th into a day for imbibing green spirits, colouring oneself green, pinching others who aren’t wearing green and sporting a Shamrock. Saint Patrick’s Day is a public holiday in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and in Newfoundland and Labrador.  

Yes, there is a province in Canada that recognizes Saint Patrick’s Day as a public holiday. Let's toast Newfoundland.

The Luck of the Irish

In 2020 I think we are all hoping for at least a little “luck of the Irish”.

Interestingly, I just learned that the phrase, “the luck of the Irish” actually has nothing to do with Saint Patrick’s day or the Irish island itself; rather, the phrase emanates from the mid-nineteenth century American gold rush, where many who made their fortunes mining precious metals were of Irish descent.

History with Levity

In any event, Saint Patrick’s Day festivities for 2020 have been dampened by the wicked Coronavirus.  Given the insidious nature of COVID-19, I say that it’s probably not a good idea to test the luck of the Irish.  Stay home.

For all of you Irish patriots, don’t take what I am now about to say too seriously.

Just as the Irish celebrations returned after the Viking incursions in 795 A.D., they will roar back after COVID-19 has run its course. 

The Vikings managed to raid the shores of Ireland for centuries because the O’Sullivans and Mahoney’s were too busy swilling green spirits and fighting each other to resist the Viking invasions.   As aforementioned, Vikings first invaded Ireland around 795 A.D.  The church of Lambeg Island in Dublin was plundered and burned. Viking raids continued until around 1014 when Brian Boru accidentally drank a cup of coffee and sobered-up just enough to defeat the Norsemen in the battle of Clontarf.  

So the answer is yes, we will all have opportunity to celebrate Saint Patrick soon; but just not today.  

a silver lining?

A "silver lining" is a consoling, hopeful or optimistic prospect.  "Every cloud has a silver lining".

I suspect life is going to change dramatically once this COVID pandemic has run its course. I expect that at some point, all of us will have been infected by the coronavirus (either by contracting it or eventually receiving a vaccine).  It Is likely that our economic lives will be altered and the world may indeed be a very different place. 

A virus is nothing more than a piece of code that copies itself and interferes with other data, such as biological data. A virus is too small to be seen by the naked eye and does not discriminate.  If the virus's code is of such a nature to disrupt our biological data and is of a kind that cannot be easily resisted by our immune system response, there is a risk that we, as biological things, will get sick. The lesson from this pandemic is that we are equally vulnerable.  It doesn’t matter whether we are Irish or Asian, Canadian or from the Middle-East, this little imperceptible code is so powerful that it is capable of causing massive disruption to all layers of human existence.  

Maybe when all is said and done, we can find a way to understand that as people across this planet, we are more similar than different. Maybe there will be a "silver lining"?

In the meantime, let’s ride this out. Unfortunately, the need for social distancing means that Saint Patrick's Day festivities should be on hold.  I wish you all the luck of the Irish.


David Chow

Calgary Criminal Lawyer

David Chow is a criminal defence lawyer in Calgary. If you have been charged with a criminal offence or a regulatory matter, do your due diligence by researching Calgary criminal lawyers.  Consider calling David Chow for a free consultation.