Illinois, Ohio, California and Massachusetts have taken measures to close down bars and make restrictions to restaurants amid the coronavirus outbreak

By Claudia Harmata
March 15, 2020 08:00 PM

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As the United States continues to tackle the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, many restaurants and bars will be faced with unprecedented precautionary measures.

As of March 15, Ohio, Illinois, California and Massachusetts issued orders and recommendations to close certain gathering places in an effort to encourage social distancing and combat the spread of the virus.

Additionally, popular coffee retailer Starbucks announced Sunday that they would only be allowing a “to go” model in its U.S. and Canadian locations for at least two weeks to help contain the coronavirus, according to a company news release.

“As we all know, the situation with COVID-19 is extremely dynamic and we will continue to review the facts and science and make the proactive decisions necessary to protect our partners, customers and communities,” Rossann Williams, an executive vice president and head of US retail operations for the coffee chain, wrote.

Below are the declarations by politicians of specific states:

New York

Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered all restaurants in the city to only be takeout or delivery starting the morning of March 17 due to the outbreak.

“Our lives are all changing in ways that were unimaginable just a week ago. We are taking a series of actions that we never would have taken otherwise in an effort to save the lives of loved ones and our neighbors. Now it is time to take yet another drastic step,” de Blasio said on Sunday. “The virus can spread rapidly through the close interactions New Yorkers have in restaurants, bars and places where we sit close together. We have to break that cycle.”

He also said he plans to “sign an Executive Order limiting restaurants, bars and cafés to food take-out and delivery” on March 16. “Nightclubs, movie theaters, small theater houses and concert venues must all close,” de Blasio said.

“This is not a decision I make lightly. These places are part of the heart and soul of our city. They are part of what it means to be a New Yorker. But our city is facing an unprecedented threat, and we must respond with wartime mentality,” he said. “We will come through this, but until we do, we must make whatever sacrifices necessary to help our fellow New Yorkers.”

Ohio

Gov. Mike DeWine made the announcement on Twitter, writing, “We will be issuing an order closing all bars and restaurants in #Ohio beginning at 9:00 tonight. Establishments can stay open for carry-out and delivery. What we can’t have is people congregating and seated.”

“I’m aware that this will impact many, many good workers. I can’t tell you how sorry I am, but we will work to mitigate the suffering. It is our goal for everyone to get through this,” he added in a follow-up tweet. “Every day we delay, more people will die. If we do not act and get some distance between people, our healthcare system in #Ohio will not hold up. The loss won’t only be those impacted by #COVID19, but the danger is also to everyone else who needs hospital care for other issues.”

Washington State

Gov. Jay Inslee announced restaurants, bars and entertainment/recreational facilities statewide will “temporarily shut down” starting March 16.

“Restaurants will be allowed to provide take-out and delivery services but no in-person dining will be permitted,” he said. “The ban will not apply to grocery stores and pharmacies. Other retail outlets will have reduced occupancy.”

RELATED: What Is ‘Social Distancing’ and How Does It Help Prevent the Spread of Coronavirus?

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Illinois

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the state would be asking bars and restaurants to close to dine-in customers by the end of Monday until March 30.

“We are working with restaurant owners and food delivery services across the state to see if restaurants can safely keep their kitchens open, so the restaurants can continue food delivery to people at their homes,” Pritzker said at a news conference Sunday, according to the Chicago Sun-Times

“The time for persuasion and public appeals is over. The time for action is here,” he added. “This is not a joke. No one is immune to this, and you have an obligation to act in the best interests of all the people of this state.”

California

Gov. Gavin Newsom said during a press conference on Sunday evening that all bars, nightclubs, wineries and brewpubs will be closed “for now,” according to CNN.

Meanwhile, he advised restaurants to space tables approximately six feet apart and reduce capacities by half, also stating that restaurants should stay open to provide food for delivery to those who are unable to access grocery stores or prepare food for themselves.

Newsom also asked Californians over the age of 65 to isolate themselves from others, the Los Angeles Times reported.

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Massachusetts

Bars and restaurants in South Boston will be closed starting on Sunday. Senator Nick Collins, who represents the city, issued a statement on Twitter Sunday morning. 

“Good morning, as we are in uncharted waters here and all need to heed the advice of public health professionals to help stop the spread of COVID19, South Boston bars and restaurants will be closed today as part of a voluntary agreement,” he wrote.

“TY Mayor Walsh, my fellow South Boston officials, Licensing Board & license holders for working w us & taking these sound proactive measures to protect the public’s health,” he added. “We are in this together &it’s imperative now that we do all that we can to keep our communities safe.”

Florida

The cities of Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale are ordering bars and restaurants to close by 10 p.m. and limit crowds to 250 people, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

“We cannot become a petri dish for a very dangerous virus. Spring break is over. The party is over,” Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said during a joint news conference on Sunday.

“I want to be clear that this is not an overreaction, but a way for us to help stop further cases of COVID-19 in our community. We must all do our part to save lives. This includes protecting our residents, visitors and our first responders,” Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis said.

Fort Lauderdale’s rules are in effect now through April 12, the outlet reported.

This move by these four states and retailers — and potentially many more in the coming days — is in an effort to promote social distancing, which health officials are saying can be the key to squashing the spread of the virus. 

“This ought to be top of mind for people over 60, and those with underlying health problems, such as heart or lung disease, diabetes or compromised immune systems,” Dr. William Schaffner, a Vanderbilt University professor and longtime adviser to the CDC, told CNN last week.

“The single most important thing you can do to avoid the virus is to reduce your face to face contact with people,” he added.

As of March 15, there have been 3,244 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 62 deaths in the United States, according to a Johns Hopkins database. 

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