More states and cities tell restaurants to end dine-in service

Washington, Massachusetts and New York City all restrict establishments to takeout and delivery as coronavirus disruptions spread.
Photograph by Jonathan Maze

The list of states requiring restaurants to suspend dine-in service grew by five during the first half of Monday, with Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Kentucky all limiting places to takeout and delivery sales.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown is expected to announce some sort of limitation on restaurants' operations later today. The options include a nighttime curfew and a shutdown of restaurants, the governor said. 

The flurry of action comes as expectations of a nationwide curfew or suspension of dine-in service continue to grow. The Coronavirus Task Force was expected to disclose a number of measures this morning that would force the public to embrace social distancing. The announcement is now expected to come this afternoon.

Without a federal directive, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut joined forces to jointly announce a suspension of dine-in service this morning. The limitation takes effect at 8 p.m. tonight. Officials explained that limiting restaurants to takeout and delivery at the same time will discourage consumers from merely crossing state lines to have an on-premise restaurant meal.

New Jersey also imposed a nightly curfew of 8 p.m. 

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear added his state to the rapidly growing list Monday morning. Dine-in service will end for restaurants at 5 p.m.

Last night, New York City, Washington state and Massachusetts all said they would order their restaurants to close for dine-in service Sunday, an extraordinary day that saw restrictions on the industry sweep across the country to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said he issued an emergency order limiting gatherings to 25 people and prohibiting the on-premise consumption of food or drink at bars and restaurants beginning Tuesday and continuing through April 6.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said late Sunday he would order all of the state’s bars and restaurants to close for dine-in service temporarily, in an emergency proclamation Monday.

Establishments in King County, where Seattle is located, will shut down “immediately,” Inslee said.

“King County has been the hotbed of this outbreak and has the largest population center in the state,” Inslee said in a statement.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Sunday he would sign an executive order to limit restaurants to takeout and delivery service at 9 p.m. on Monday. Dine-in service would be prohibited.

“This is not a decision I make lightly,” the Democratic mayor said. “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 a wartime mentality.”

Most of the city’s most celebrated restaurants, including Gotham Bar and Grill and all the restaurants operated by Danny Meyer and David Chang, have voluntarily closed because of limited business and concerns about protecting guests and employees.

Late on Sunday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said that he ordered bars and nightclubs and dine-in restaurants closed as of Monday. Pennsylvania, meanwhile, took a similar step in four counties there, and on Monday Mich. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said she would issue an order temporarily shutting down eat-in service.

The moves came as more states said they would put curbs on restaurants. Puerto Rico said it would order any business that serves liquor to close at 6 p.m. every evening. Ohio and Illinois later said they would stop dine-in service and California said it wanted restaurants to cut their capacities in half but ordered the closure of bars and nightclubs.

At one point it appeared the federal government was prepared to take a similar step, after its top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said he recommended such closures to the White House. Late on Sunday, the CDC said it would recommend that gatherings of 50 or more people be canceled or postponed.

Washington state has been the epicenter of the epidemic in the U.S. all month. It was the first state in the nation to report a case of the coronavirus and has been the hardest hit by the pandemic. So far the state has reported 673 cases and 42 deaths. The state has prohibited gatherings with more than 50 people.

“I know there will be significant economic impacts to all our communities,” Inslee said on Twitter. “But every hour counts as we bend the curve of infection.”

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