Several U.S. states and major cities have taken the step of shuttering restaurants and bars, as well as nightclubs, movie theaters and other entertainment venues, in an effort to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The governors of Ohio, Illinois, Massachusetts and Washington said Sunday that all restaurants and bars in their states would be ordered to stop dine-in services to mitigate the looming threat of the disease, known as COVID-19. Only takeout and delivery services would be allowed to continue.
“The time for persuasion and public appeals is over,” Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said of the decision. “This is not a joke. No one is immune to this.”
Also on Sunday, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf pulled the plug on dine-in facilities at all restaurants and bars across five counties ― Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery ― and California Gov. Gavin Newsom directed all “non-essential” businesses including bars, nightclubs and wineries to shutter.
Newsom said, however, that restaurants could remain open but called for them to impose social distancing and to “focus on takeout.”
In Los Angeles, restaurants were ordered by Mayor Eric Garcetti to stop in-house dining and to sell takeout and delivery items exclusively. Garcetti also announced the closure of all movie theaters and gyms.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio made a similar announcement on Sunday night.
“This is not a decision I make lightly,” de Blasio said, announcing the restriction of all restaurants, bars and cafes to take-out and delivery only. “These places are part of the heart and soul of our city … But our city is facing an unprecedented threat, and we must respond with a wartime mentality.”
The restaurant closure announcements came as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged Americans to cancel or postpone all gatherings of 50 people or more for the next eight weeks.
“This recommendation is made in an attempt to reduce introduction of the virus into new communities, and to slow the spread of infection in communities already affected by the virus,” the agency said.
More than 169,000 people worldwide have been sickened by COVID-19 to date, and over 6,500 people have died.
In the U.S., the death toll has climbed to more than 60.