New York City to close schools; bars, restaurants around U.S. ordered closed over coronavirus

Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered schools closed in New York City as Ohio and Illinois ordered all bars and restaurants in the states to shut down service.

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By Ben Kesslen

New York City announced Sunday that it will close public schools Monday and states and cities are ordering bars and restaurants to close to encourage social distancing to try to stem the outbreak of the coronavirus as U.S. cases climbed well past 3,000.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Sunday evening that Westchester, Nassau, Suffolk and New York City schools will close this week. Cuomo also said in a statement that New York City must put a plan in place to make sure that children who rely on school meals will still get fed and that parents, especially health care workers and first responders, will be provided child care.

In a news conference Sunday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said schools will close Monday and remain closed at least until April 20. The mayor said there is a chance schools could remain closed for the rest of the school year.

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The announcement came after widespread calls to close the schools and protests from "furious" teachers who thought it was irresponsible to keep schools open.

"It is time to take more dramatic measures," the mayor said, adding that he knows "the full cost of shutting our schools."

The decision came on a day when states and cities across the country took more dramatic measures to contain the coronavirus.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced Sunday that he has ordered all bars and restaurants in the state to shut down service beginning at 9 p.m.

"How long will this order be in effect? We don't, frankly, know," DeWine told reporters Sunday. "It will be in effect for as long as it needs to."

DeWine said carryout and delivery services were not included in the order, and he said his administration is working to help small businesses that will inevitably suffer.

Ohio's decision came as other states are putting similar protocols in place. On Sunday, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker ordered bars and restaurants in the state to close from Monday to March 30. On CNN on Sunday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said he plans to enact a similar policy.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh ordered bars, restaurants and clubs to cut their capacities in half by removing tables and chairs to encourage social distancing, said beer gardens cannot open until the crisis passes, and said lines should not form outside, according to NBC Boston. He also loosened rules applying to takeout.

"We are basically allowing every single establishment that serves food in the city of Boston to serve takeout," Walsh said.

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Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser also announced a series of protocols that restaurants and bars must follow, including limiting service to tables of six peoples or fewer, ensuring that patrons are seated at least 6 feet apart at tables and booths and ordering nightclubs and multipurpose facilities to suspend operations.

New York City is not closing bars and restaurants, but it is cracking down on establishments that violate its earlier rule of keeping occupancy at half of capacity. Authorities will enforce penalties on the half-capacity rule, de Blasio said.

The efforts by states and cities are meant to force more people to participate in social distancing, one of the best ways to slow the spread of a virus and minimize its effects on the most vulnerable populations.

"The best tool we have right now in this response is to give individuals breathing room from one another," Jason Schwartz, an assistant professor of health policy at the Yale School of Public Health, previously told NBC News. "This is really critical."