Washington, D.C., mayor imposes coronavirus curbs on bars, restaurants
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[March 17, 2020]
By Eric Beech
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Washington, D.C.'s
mayor on Monday announced new restrictions on businesses, including
tough curbs on bars and restaurants, as part of the U.S. capital's
response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Mayor Muriel Bowser's order prohibits table seating at bars and
restaurants, but allows them sell orders for delivery or pickup. She has
also ordered nightclubs, theaters and health clubs to close for at least
two weeks starting on Tuesday.
The mayor's order, similar to those imposed in other cities and states
to help slow the spread of the highly contagious virus, bans all
gatherings of more than 50 people.
The restaurant and bar restrictions go into effect at 10 p.m. (0200 GMT)
on Monday night and remain in effect until at least March 31.
"Come by for one last burger, beer or cocktail! Happy Hour til 9!," the
operators of one Washington bar, Town Tavern, tweeted.
A sign on the sidewalk outside the Reliable Tavern in Washington’s
Petworth neighborhood read “Last Day To Drink.”
"I’ve been saying for over a month that this would happen. But hearing
it from the mayor’s mouth was crushing," said Zak Sanders, a bartender
inside the darkened interior, where three customers nursed drinks,
Bowser's announcement comes as congressional lawmakers elsewhere in
Washington are debating proposals to tackle the spread of the virus and
its impact on the U.S. economy.
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Kids perform skateboard tricks at Freedom Plaza, as Mayor Muriel
Bowser declared a State of Emergency due to the coronavirus disease
(COVID-19) in Washington, U.S., March 16, 2020. REUTERS/Tom Brenner
Bowser said at a news conference that the measures were needed to
promote the concept of "social distancing" whereby people keep at
least six feet (1.83 m) apart in order to prevent spread of
COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus that
has killed at least 80 Americans.
"When we slow the spread of COVID we protect our hospitals and
healthcare facilities from getting overwhelmed. We are able to keep
more hospital beds open and make better use of limited resources,"
Businesses are subject to criminal and civil penalties if they
violate the terms of the order.
(Reporting by Eric Beech in Washington. Additional reporting by
Lawrence Hurley and Jonathan Landay; Editing by Matthew Lewis and
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