Restaurants, bars, and cafes in New York City will be allowed to serve only food take-out and delivery starting Tuesday morning, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced, as the city looks to eliminate large gatherings amid the coronavirus outbreak.
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The mayor said he will sign an executive order imposing the restrictions starting 9 a.m. Tuesday. The order will also stipulate nightclubs, movie theaters, small theater houses, and concert venues close.
It will be a monumental shift for the lives of many New Yorkers. The restrictions have no end date. At a press briefing Saturday, New York City Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot said the city's "best estimate" for the end of the coronavirus crisis at this time is "some time in September."
“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,” de Blasio said in a statement. “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 a wartime mentality.”
The new rules mean you can still order take-out from your favorite neighborhood spot, but that applies only to food. Essentially, bars with no food service will have to close. New Yorkers will still be able to do take-out from coffee shops.
All day the mayor had been under pressure to put the city on lockdown — the comptroller, the public advocate, and the city council speaker had all called for it. This move Sunday night was a big step towards that measure.
On Thursday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a ban on gatherings of 500 people or more in the state. Earlier Sunday, the mayor said the city would “crack down” on bars and restaurants that were not abiding by the new rule, which also mandates they stay at 50 percent of their occupancy limit.
Now, they will not be able to serve any sitting customers at their locations for the foreseeable future.
Already, Illinois and Ohio have shut down their bars and restaurants.
The decision marked a Sunday of increasing restrictions, cancellations, and changes in the city due to the virus:
- Public schools will be closed until at least April 20.
- The mayor said he would sign an executive order to cancel all elective surgeries at city hospitals.
- He also is shutting down all senior centers. They will turn into food distribution centers, where some can get “grab-and-go” meals.
- The special election for Queens borough president will not take place March 24.
At least 729 people in New York state had contracted COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, by Sunday morning, Cuomo said, 329 of them in the city. De Blasio said five people in the city, all with pre-existing conditions, have died due to the virus,
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