The COVID-19 coronavirus has triggered even more drastic preventative measures across the United States. After the cancellation of several major events and moratoriums prohibiting large gatherings, many jurisdictions are taking things a step farther requiring bars and restaurants to close.
The state of California enacted a policy today that has closed bars and nightclubs until further notice as they have been deemed “non-essential businesses.” The move does not include restaurants at this time, with California governor, Gavin Newsome, stating that, “We don’t believe this is necessary at this moment.” Restaurants will, however, have to cut their maximum occupancy by half in an effort to enable social distancing.
Newsome requested that the 5.3 million California residents aged 65 and above self-isolate completely in an effort to protect the senior citizen population. He acknowledged, “We recognize that social isolation for millions of Californians is anxiety inducing” but emphasized that “we need to meet this moment head-on.”
California is Not Alone
Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker took similar measures as Newsome, ordering bars and restaurants in the state to remain closed from March 16th-30th. Boston’s mayor Marty Walsh took more lenient steps when he ordered the maximum occupancy of all bars and restaurants in the city to be cut in half and that tables and chairs be removed to encourage social distancing.
New York City mayor Bill DeBlasio took similar actions as Walsh, enacting the half-capacity rule and emphasizing that they will be enforcing penalties on establishments that violate that rule. Washington D.C. mayor Muriel Bowser created more specific protocols, dictating that restaurants can not serve parties larger than six and that tables must be six feet apart in addition to the temporary closing of nightclubs and multi-purpose facilities.
Things in Ohio are a little different with governor Mike DeWine establishing an early closing time of 9PM for bars and restaurants. In Florida, the cities of Miami Beach and Ft Lauderdale have enacted a mix of the aforementioned policies. Those areas will require bars and restaurants to not serve more than half capacity — with a specific cap of 250 patrons regardless of the location’s size — as well as to close at 10PM.
What Does This All Mean?
The one thing that is painfully clear about all of these measures going into place is the massive toll that will be taken on the entertainment and service industries. The US is already in the throws of economic turmoil with how the stock market has been acting and these recent developments will not make things any better.
Bartenders, waiters and the like are joining musicians and event promoters in being affected by COVID-19 in ways that could potentially be catastrophic for their livelihood. While all of these actions are no doubt necessary — and are in line with recommendations by the WHO — it remains to be seen how quickly it will contain the virus, if at all.
Complex News reported from Chicago that in spite of social distancing policies being recommended, St. Patty’s Day celebrations were still going in full force over the weekend. That revelation makes Pritzker’s move to close all bars and restaurants until March 30th seem even more necessary. Should the measures from across the country fail to curtail or contain the virus, we may be facing lock downs like those in China, Italy and now Spain. Time will only tell.
In the mean time, wash your hands and stay up to date on prevention tips from the World Health Organization.