States, Cities Ordering Restaurant and Bar Restrictions Due to Coronavirus

With the specter of a federal ban on restaurants and bars looming, states have started enacting emergency measures designed to combat the spread of COVID-19 such as ordering the closure of bars and nightclubs, curfews and reducing occupancy levels. 

On March 17, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said all bars and nightclubs in the state will close starting at 5 p.m. that day. Restaurants will be required to practice social distancing and operate at half capacity. They will also be required to screen employees. 

The tristate area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are taking joint regional action effective 8 p.m., March 16. According to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo this involves:

  •  Crowd capacity reduced to 50 
  • Restaurants/bars will be takeout/delivery ONLY 
  • Gyms closed 
  • Movie theaters closed
  • Casinos closed

"The Coronavirus doesn't care about state borders, so this agreement with Governor Ned Lamont and Governor Phil Murphy will help protect the entire Tri-State Area," Cuomo tweeted. "These temporary closures will last as long as is necessary to protect the public health. Our primary goal is to slow the spread of Coronavirus so that the wave doesn’t crash our healthcare system. Social distancing is the best way to do that. I have called on the federal gov't to implement nationwide protocols, but in their absence we are taking this on ourselves."

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti  issued an emergency order to strengthen the city’s response, placing temporary restrictions on restaurants, bars, and other establishments in the City of Los Angeles.

The order includes temporary closure of bars and nightclubs that do not serve food, movie theaters and entertainment venues, bowling alleys and arcades, and gyms and fitness centers. Restaurants, bars and retail food facilities may not serve food for consumption on their premises but may continue to offer food for delivery, takeout or drive-thru. 

“We are all first-responders in this crisis,” said Mayor Garcetti. “I don’t take these steps lightly, but they are absolutely necessary — because our decisions today have the power to slow the spread of the virus and save lives.”

The restrictions will take effect in the City of Los Angeles beginning at 11:59 p.m. March 15 and will remain in place through noon on March 31, 2020. They are subject to extension.

The following establishments within the City of Los Angeles will be temporarily closed to the public:

  • Bars and nightclubs that do not serve food;
  • Movie theaters and entertainment venues;
  • Bowling alleys and arcades; and
  • Gyms and fitness centers.

The following restrictions will also apply:

  • All restaurants will be prohibited from serving food to dine-in customers, but may continue to prepare and offer food via delivery service or take-out;
  • Houses of worship are urged to limit large gatherings on their premises and to explore and implement ways to practice their respective faiths while observing social distancing practices.

Calling bars, nightclubs, wineries and brew pubs, "non-essential" locations, California Governor Gavin Newsom called for their closure, while saying restaurants were more "nuanced." He called for a reduction in occupancy levels to half and for social distancing to be practiced. 

In New York City, Mayor Bill De Blasio said he would sign an executive order limiting restaurants, bars and cafes to food take-out and delivery. Nightclubs, movie theaters, small theater houses, and concert venues must all close. The order will go into effect Tuesday, March 17.

"This is not a decision I make lightly," he said in a tweet. "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."

In Washington, Governor Jay Inslee said he will sign a statewide emergency proclamation tomorrow to temporarily shut down restaurants, bars and entertainment and recreational facilities.  

“Restaurants will be allowed to provide take-out and delivery services but no in-person dining will be permitted," he said.  “The ban will not apply to grocery stores and pharmacies. Other retail outlets will have reduced occupancy.

“Additionally, all gatherings with over 50 participants are prohibited and all gatherings under 50 participants are prohibited unless previously announced criteria for public health and social distancing are met. 

“These are very difficult decisions, but hours count here and very strong measures are necessary to slow the spread of the disease. I know there will be significant economic impacts to all our communities and we are looking at steps to help address those challenges.

“Tonight, after consultations with me and with the Department of Health, King County announced that they will be taking these actions immediately. King County has been the hotbed of this outbreak and has the largest population center in the state. I have spoken to Executive Dow Constantine and I applaud their decision to act quickly. We will do a joint media announcement with more details tomorrow morning.”

In Massachusetts, Governor Charlie Baker issued an emergency order limiting gatherings to 25 individuals and prohibiting on-premises consumption of food or drink at bars and restaurants, beginning on March 17 and effective until April 6. Take out and delivery are allowed. 

In Ohio, Governor Mike DeWine announced the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) has issued a Director's Order that will close all Ohio bars and restaurants to in-house patrons, effective at 9:00 p.m.  March 15. Restaurants with take-out and delivery options will still be able to operate those services, even as their dining rooms are temporarily closed.

The order was issued ahead of the St. Patrick's Day holiday, which commonly would attract large groups of people to bars and restaurants across the state. This would make "social distancing" impossible in many circumstances. This is known by healthcare providers to be among the most effective ways to slow the spread of the disease, due to the high rate and speed of transmission in COVID-19.

“Our goal is for everyone to get through this," said Governor Mike DeWine. "Our hope is that next St. Patrick’s Day, everyone will be there and that they’ll have the opportunity to live their life and live their American dream. But, if people are not around, they can’t do that.”

In Illinois, bars and restaurants wil close March 16 until the end of March. Takeout, curbside delivery and delivery will still be allowed. 

"There are no easy decisions to make as we address this unprecedented crisis — we must do what science and experts say will keep people safe," Governor J.B. Pritzer said in a tweet. 

And Starbucks is temporarily moving to a "to-go" model in all company-owned stores in the U.S. and Canada in order to encourage social distancing.  This move is expected to be in place for at least two weeks. 

“As we all know, the situation with COVID-19 is extremely dynamic and we will continue to review the facts and science and make the proactive decisions necessary to protect our partners, customers and communities,” wrote Rossann Williams, executive vice president and president, U.S. company-operated business and Canada.

Shake Shack announced that starting Monday, it will temporarily shift to a “to-go” only operating model in all of its U.S. company-owned restaurants, as the COVID-19 situation continues to rapidly evolve. Guests will be able to place to-go orders in the restaurant, pre-order on, the Shack App for pickup, or order for delivery through Grubhub and Seamless in all cities, as well as other providers such as Postmates, DoorDash, Caviar and UberEats in certain locales. Out of concern for the well-being of its guests, team members and community, dining rooms will be closed.

Shake Shack restaurants across the country may also be impacted by closures or reduced hours over the coming weeks.

“As we navigate this evolving situation, we’ll continue to act in the interest of the safety of our team and our guests,” said Randy Garutti, Shake Shack CEO. “We’re committed to doing our part as a company to play a proactive role in protecting our communities. I am endlessly inspired by and proud of our teams as they act quickly in these uncertain times, and grateful to our guests for their continued trust and support. When the time comes to re-open our dining rooms as the community gathering place we were born to be, our teams will be ready. Until, then we are thankful for the privilege to serve our guests safely.”

Due to the current unprecedented market conditions domestically and internationally, the Company is withdrawing financial guidance for the fiscal year ending December 30, 2020. Shake Shack will provide an update on the business on its First Quarter earnings call.

Just Salad is temporarily suspending in-store dining and shift to 100-percent digital ordering, in a proactive step to protect the health and safety of its customers and employees during the COVID-19 outbreak and fulfill increasing delivery demand from customers working from home.

The following changes were in effect as of close of business March 16:

  • New York City, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Chicago locations will provide pick-up orders at the front door, with a 15-minute-or-your-money-back guarantee;
  • On-premise dining and ordering at these locations will be suspended until further notice;
  • All delivery fees through orders placed on Just Salad’s app or will be waived. Phone orders can also be placed at 866-673-3757;
  • Contactless and Tamperproof Delivery will be implemented on all orders on the Just Salad app and;
  • Delivery zones in New York City, Chicago, and Philadelphia will be expanded.

“In light of recent events, and for the safety of our team members and valued customers, we have decided that the best and most efficient way to serve food right now is through pick-up and delivery orders,” said Founder and CEO Nick Kenner. “This change will support the social distancing guidelines issued by government officials and allow us to provide the highest level of service.”

The brand will offer free delivery through its app and website (, along with a 15-minute guarantee on all pick-up orders. Just Salad’s menu will continue to be available on a number of third-party platforms, including Grubhub and Seamless. Customers placing pick-up orders will be greeted and served at the front door by a team member.

By temporarily removing in-store dining and ordering, the company will be able to expand its capacity to fulfill digital orders.

“By focusing solely on digital orders, our team can execute at an even higher level and is well-suited to handle the increased demand we expect from customers who are working from home,” Kenner said.

The company’s locations in North Carolina and Florida will remain open to in-store ordering for the time being but are prepared to shift to digital if needed.

The brand also introduced contactless delivery and tamper-proof packaging, to help minimize contact between customers, teammates, and delivery personnel. These services are automatically included for all orders. Contactless delivery involves couriers leaving deliveries on a customer’s doorstep or other chosen delivery location; the couriers will be calling all customers to confirm their delivery drop-off location.

“More than 1,000 employees and families depend on Just Salad as an employer,” Kenner said. “As we see more orders come in through our digital channels, these measures will help minimize impacts to their work schedules and maximize their safety. We are also providing an additional free meal to employees and their families, should their work schedules become impacted by the COVID-19 situation.”

Just Salad offers paid sick leave to all of its employees.