The Slatest

Ohio, Illinois, Massachusetts Close Bars and Restaurants Amid Coronavirus Fears

Customers eat and drink at Sluggers, a family-owned sports bar and grill in the shadow of Wrigley Field, on March 15, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois.
Customers eat and drink at Sluggers, a family-owned sports bar and grill in the shadow of Wrigley Field, on March 15, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. Scott Olson/Getty Images

The governors of Ohio, Illinois, and Massachusetts ordered the closure of bars and restaurants as leaders continue to push efforts to try to slow the spread of coronavirus. California’s governor also asked the state’s bars and restaurants to close but stopped short of mandating the move. Several other states are considering similar measures. “The time for persuasion and public appeals is over,” Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said. “This is not a joke. No one is immune to this.” All bars and restaurants in Illinois will be closed starting Tuesday through March 30 and open only for delivery and take-out orders.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine called on all Ohio bars and restaurants to close by 9 p.m. Sunday, saying he was particularly worried about St. Patrick’s Day on Tuesday. He said restaurants could still offer carryout or delivery service. In Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker said all restaurants are bars must stop on-site service for the next three weeks and only gatherings of 25 or fewer people will be allowed. “I realize these measures are unprecedented, but we’re asking residents to take a deep breath and understand the rationale,” Baker said. “People need to take seriously this idea of social distancing.”

The closures came as the country’s health authorities called on Americans to take the concept of social distancing seriously. New York City will start closing the nation’s largest public school system this week. The schools will be closed until at least April 20. But New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said that the closure could very well last through the end of the school year. His words echoed those of Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine who said earlier Sunday that students may not return to school for the rest of the academic year.

In Florida, Walt Disney World and Universal-Orlando closed down Sunday night for the rest of the night, following closures of their California counterparts. A growing number of retailers also said they would be temporarily closing their stores, including Nike, Urban Outfitters, and Abercrombie & Fitch. Starbucks, meanwhile, said it would shut down some of its stores while it will shift to a takeout model at thousands of its locations for at least two weeks.