States are imposing the strictest Covid-19 lockdowns since the spring

States and major cities across the country have imposed the most extensive restrictions on business and social gatherings since the widespread spring lockdowns, hoping to prevent a further increase in Covid-19 cases over the winter holidays.

Even as Pfizer Inc.

and Moderna Inc.

Delivering the first doses of the coronavirus vaccine, officials plead with a tired – and sometimes defiant – audience to avoid the kind of gatherings and trips that have helped new cases soar to record levels nationally after Thanksgiving.

‘We can’t give up now. We must continue all our efforts to halt the spread of Covid-19 at a very vulnerable time, ”said Dr. Rachel Levine, Secretary of Health in Pennsylvania, where Democratic Governor Tom Wolf ordered places like movie theaters on Dec. 10. and bowling alleys to close until January 4th, and limited restaurants for takeout, leaving some in opposition.

Nearly 85 million Americans are expected to travel from December 23 to January 3, at least 29% less than last year, according to an estimate by the AAA. In states across the country, small businesses and restaurants are hit by de facto lockdowns due to occupancy or dining restrictions. At the same time, chain stores are allowed to remain open, in part because their large stores allow for social distance, sparking resentment in small business owners.

Brenda Reid, owner of Brenda’s Family Restaurant in Mill Run, Pennsylvania, said she had no choice but to defy the state’s abandonment of indoor dining and said she and her eight employees are dependent on income. Ms. Reid added that she ran up most of her savings during the five-week spring shutdown.

If she closed now, Ms. Reid said, she would probably have to close the restaurant permanently and find a new job. “At the age of 68, that’s a bit difficult,” she said.

In the spring, all but a handful of states issued orders to halt nonessential economic activity. At the time, states were short of fans, testing capacity, and personal protective equipment for health workers, and treatments for the new virus. Those broad orders slowed the infection rate and allowed hospitals time to catch up. With the number of cases rising, most states are restricting activities that help spread the virus while trying to prevent a complete shutdown of the economy.

North Carolina, which currently has a curfew for non-essential activities, issued its first house arrest on March 27.

“We didn’t know how quickly the virus was spreading, which we were really dealing with,” said Dr. Mandy Cohen, North Carolina secretary of health and human services. “More importantly, we didn’t have our responsiveness up and mature.”

After the spring closures, some states dropped many restrictions, while others relaxed again.

North Carolina has a curfew for non-essential activities, and this Nov. 30 college basketball game in Asheville took place with no fans.


Kathy Kmonicek / Associated Press

“We really use the dimmer-switch approach to try to control the level of viral spread. And I think that has really helped us as a state, ”said Dr. Cohen.

Since the number of cases and the number of hospital admissions have increased this fall, the state has had to turn the dial up again. On December 8, Dr. Cohen and Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper issued an injunction requiring people to stay indoors between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. until at least January 8.

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New Jersey and Virginia also entered stay-at-home orders from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., while other states closed restaurants and bars at 10 p.m.

New Mexico and California have stay-at-home orders that vary by region or province.

New Mexico, which delivered a two-week home delivery on Nov. 13, is now under one county order, depending on the latest data. In California, four of the five regions face some of the strictest restrictions in the country, with indoor and outdoor dining being shut down and businesses such as wineries and hair salons closed for at least three weeks, after reserve capacity in regional intensive care units has fallen below the 15 was down. %, according to a plan that Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, announced on Dec. 3.

Downtown Beaver Dam, Wis., Last month. Gov. Tony Evers has faced legal setbacks in its attempts to restrict companies from slowing the coronavirus.


Lauren Justice on behalf of The Wall Street Journal

In Wisconsin, efforts by the government of Democratic Governor Tony Evers to restrict companies to help slow the virus suffered several times in court.

“Our inability to mitigate the problems surrounding this disease has been very frustrating,” said Mr. Evers last week.

Some states, such as North Dakota, have imposed fewer restrictions despite being hit hard by the pandemic. On December 9, the state expanded the limits for bars and restaurants to 50% capacity and enforced early closing times, but high school was resumed on December 14.


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“We are grateful because we know that people love sports in high school,” said Governor Doug Burgum, a Republican. On Monday he had bars resume normal office hours.

In Chicago, where bars and restaurants are closed to back office hours and people are asked to limit social gatherings to six people, officials are monitoring social media to cut through potential superspreader events.

Chicago authorities said they work with Airbnb Inc.

and Eventbrite Inc.

to keep an eye on people renting party blocks or selling tickets to illegal gatherings, and trying to close parties before they start.

An Eventbrite spokeswoman said officials in Chicago have focused on the company’s “ Report this event ” feature, which allows users to flag questionable meetings. An Airbnb spokeswoman said the company has banned parties on rentals and does not allow one-night bookings on New Year’s Eve. She added that Airbnb is working with local governments to work hard against people who break local regulations.

“Pandemic fatigue is real. People are tired of doing this, ”said Ivan Capifali, deputy commissioner of Chicago’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.

Dining outdoors in McCandless, Pa., In October. Pennsylvania limited restaurants for takeout earlier this month.


Alexandra Wimley / Associated Press

While coronavirus cases have increased in many places after Thanksgiving, Minnesota has attributed the closure of indoor and outdoor services at restaurants and bars prior to the holiday – as well as other measures – to a reversal of a rise in the number of cases.

“I’m incredibly grateful for the sacrifices you’ve made to bring that down again. We still have a way to go, ”Democratic government Tim Walz said on December 16 when he reversed some of those restrictions.

The state now allows outdoor dining again, but enforced its ban on indoor dining, prompting more than 150 restaurant, bar and small business owners to pledge backlash in a Facebook group called the ReOpen Minnesota Coalition.

The state attorney general has filed lawsuits against two bars that opened in front of large covered crowds last week.

Trevor Holte, a 53-year-old auto broker, said he spent four hours at one of the two, Alibi Drinkery, a sports bar in Lakeville, Minnesota. “People are fed up with the government,” he said.

Last Friday, the state obtained a temporary restraining order against the bar’s opening for back office sales, but it remained open through Monday, according to Michael Padden, the bar’s attorney. During a hearing Wednesday morning, Judge Jerome Abrams said he would make a decision as soon as possible.

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Write to Joe Barrett at [email protected] and Ben Kesling at [email protected]

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