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Operating rules for restaurants tighten as coronavirus cases surge

Arizona and New Mexico are among the states and cities taking steps to restrict restaurants and bars amid a virus resurgence.
restaurant distancing
Photograph: Shutterstock

With coronavirus cases surging in many parts of the country, a number of local and state jurisdictions continued Friday to make moves to scale back reopening of restaurants and bars, and enforce mask usage, in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.

Among the most recent rule changes:

  • Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey ordered all restaurants to cap dining room capacity at 50%, with at least six feet between all tables. The order goes into effect at 10 p.m. Saturday and will be reevaluated every two weeks. Restaurants with retractable roofs or garage-type windows must follow the mandate. And all buffets, cafeteria-style and self-serve food bars must close. Diners must wear masks anytime they are not seated at their tables. Late last month, Ducey ordered all bars in the state closed.
  • New Mexico's Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Thursday shut down all dine-in operations at the state's restaurants and bars. The new mandate takes effect Monday. Outdoor restaurant operations can continue at 50% capacity. "Restaurants did not do this to New Mexicans," Lujan Grisham said in a press conference, as reported by local media. "New Mexicans did this to restaurants."
  • Allegheny County, home to Pittsburgh, banned all indoor dining or alcohol consumption at bars, restaurants and other businesses, under an order from the county health department.
  • Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Friday toughened the state’s mask mandate, saying that businesses must deny service to anyone who refuses to wear a mask. Businesses must post signs alerting customers of their legal obligation to wear a mask, according to the order. Failure to comply can result in the temporary suspension of the business’s license, “including but not limited to a liquor license,” the order states.
  • In Chicago, bars, restaurants and other spots, such as breweries, that serve alcohol, must close at midnight, under an order from the mayor released Friday. Those entities had already been barred from selling alcohol after 11 p.m., but had been allowed to remain open after liquor sales closed. The move is designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus by limiting congregating.
  • South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster Friday announced that all bars, restaurants and breweries must stop serving alcohol at 11 p.m., beginning Saturday. Violations could lead to the revocation of liquor licenses, McMaster said.
  • Officials in Orange County, North Carolina announced this week that restaurants must close on-site operations at 10 p.m.

The moves come as the country’s top infectious disease specialist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, continues to sound the alarm about rising coronavirus cases in the U.S. Speaking at the AIDS 2020 Conference Friday, he said the nation is in the middle of a “very serious problem,” according to CNN.

Coronavirus deaths continue to climb in many states, with several states setting single-day records of deaths this week, according to the New York Times. The U.S. recorded its sixth single-day record in 10 days, with nearly 60,000 new COVID-19 cases reported Thursday.

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