Along with other measures being recommended or instituted to combat the spread of COVID-19, epidemiologists and government officials most strongly highlight the value of social distancing — which includes skipping gatherings of more than 10 people and staying away from bars and restaurants. Even the White House has advised the country to “avoid eating or drinking in bars, restaurants, and food courts” as a part of the just-issued President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America.
Italy, France, and Spain closed all bars and restaurants, along with other “non-essential” businesses, last week. In our own country, many high-profile restaurateurs — including José Andrés, David Chang, and Danny Meyer — anticipated government action and shuttered their establishments themselves. In addition, the mayors of some cities — among them Miami, Houston, Dallas, New Orleans, and Salt Lake City — took preemptive action, asking restaurants to limit their service to takeout and delivery only.
This Sunday and Monday, closings became far more widespread, as one governor after another announced a statewide ban on in-restaurant dining, usually for an indeterminate period of time. (In all cases, establishments may continue food deliveries and takeout service.)
Though the ban will be an obvious hardship for bar owners and restaurateurs, some of them actively requested the official actions, as they would not qualify for loss-of-business insurance without it. Beyond such actions, here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus and America’s restaurants.
24/7 Tempo has assembled a list of all the states that have instituted the bar and restaurant ban, as of mid-afternoon on March 17, together with projected end dates where available. Other states will no doubt soon add their names to this list. In addition, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, has said that a government-mandated nationwide lockdown of restaurants might be a possibility as we face what may well go down in history as one of the worst outbreaks of all time.