States have imposed stricter Covid-19 blocks since spring

The states and major cities in the country have imposed the most extensive restrictions on business and social gatherings since widespread blockades during the spring, in the hope of preventing a further increase in Covid-19 cases during winter break.

Same as Pfizer Inc.

and Modern Inc.

In delivering the first doses of the coronavirus vaccine, authorities are pleading with a tired – and sometimes challenging – audience to avoid the types of meetings and trips that have helped to bring new cases to record levels across the country after Thanksgiving.

“We cannot give up now. We need to continue all our efforts to prevent the spread of Covid-19 at a very vulnerable time, ”said Dr. Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania health secretary, where Democratic Governor Tom Wolf on December 10 ordered places like cinemas and runways bowling to close until January 4 and limited restaurants for delivery, leading some to remain open in resistance.

Nearly 85 million Americans are expected to travel from December 23 to January 3, at least 29% of last year, according to an AAA estimate. In several states in the country, small businesses and restaurants are being hit by de facto blockades because of occupancy limits or restaurant restrictions. At the same time, large retailers were allowed to remain open, partly because their large stores allow social distance, generating resentment from small business owners.

Brenda Reid, owner of Brenda’s Family Restaurant in Mill Run, Pennsylvania, said she had no choice but to challenge the closure of indoor meals in the state, saying she and her eight employees depend on income. Ms. Reid added that she drained most of her savings during the five-week spring closing.

If she closed now, Reid said, she would probably need to close the restaurant permanently and find a new job. “At 68, this is a little difficult,” she said.

In the spring, all but a handful of states issued home stay orders that paralyzed nonessential economic activities. At the time, states lacked ventilators, testing capacity and personal protective equipment for healthcare professionals, and needed treatments for the new virus. These general orders reduced the infection rate and gave hospitals time to recover. Now, with the increase in the number of cases, most states are restricting activities that help the virus spread, while trying to prevent the economy from completely shutting down.

North Carolina, which currently has a curfew for non-essential activities, issued its initial order to stay home on March 27.

“We didn’t know how quickly the virus was spreading, what we were really dealing with,” said Dr. Mandy Cohen, North Carolina’s secretary of health and human services. “Most importantly, we didn’t have our high and mature response capabilities.”

After the spring shutdowns, some states lifted many restrictions, while others eased.

North Carolina has a curfew for non-essential activities, and this November 30 college basketball game in Asheville went without fans.


Kathy Kmonicek / Associated Press

“We really used the darker switch approach to try to keep the level of viral spread under control. And I think it really helped us as a state, ”said Dr. Cohen.

As the number of cases and hospitalizations increased this fall, the state had to increase the number again. On December 8, Dr. Cohen and Democratic Governor Roy Cooper announced an order demanding that people remain at home between 10 pm and 5 am until at least 8 January.

While pharmaceutical companies distribute Covid-19 vaccines, cybersecurity experts warn against the growing threat of adulteration and theft by organized crime networks. WSJ explains how hackers are aiming to implement the vaccine during the pandemic. Illustration: George Downs

New Jersey and Virginia also made requests to stay home from 10 pm to 5 am, while other states closed restaurants and bars at 10 pm.

New Mexico and California have home stay requests that vary by region or county.

New Mexico, which released a two-week home stay application on November 13, is now under a county-by-county order, depending on the latest data. In California, four of the five regions face some of the country’s strictest restrictions, with indoor and outdoor meals interrupted and businesses like wineries and hairdressers closed for at least three weeks, after idle capacity in regional intensive care units has dropped to less than 15%, according to a plan Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, announced on December 3.

Downtown Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, last month. Governor Tony Evers faced legal setbacks in his efforts to restrict business to slow the coronavirus.


Lauren Justice for The Wall Street Journal

In Wisconsin, efforts by Democratic Governor Tony Evers’ administration to restrict business to help reduce the virus have suffered several setbacks in the courts.

“Our inability to mitigate the problems surrounding this disease has been very frustrating,” said 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 extended the limits of bars and restaurants to 50% of capacity and forced the early closure, but allowed high school sports to resume on December 14.


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“We are grateful because we know that people love college sports,” said Gov. Doug Burgum, a Republican. On Monday, he allowed the bars to return to normal opening hours.

In Chicago, where bars and restaurants are closed for internal service and people are asked to limit social gatherings to six people, authorities monitor social media to stop oversizing events.

Chicago officials say they work with Airbnb Inc.

and Eventbrite Inc.

to keep track of people who rent party cushions or sell tickets to illegal meetings and try to close the parties before they start.

An Eventbrite spokeswoman said Chicago employees focused on the company’s “Report This Event” feature, which allows users to flag questionable meetings. An Airbnb spokeswoman said the company has banned rental parties and does not allow one-night New Year’s Eve reservations. She added that Airbnb is working with local governments to crack down on people who violate local laws.

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

Outdoor dining in McCandless, Pennsylvania, in October. Earlier this month, Pennsylvania limited restaurants to fast delivery.


Alexandra Wimley / Associated Press

While many places experienced an increase in coronavirus cases after Thanksgiving, Minnesota credited the closure of internal and external services in restaurants and bars before the holiday – as well as other measures – with the reversal of an increase in the number of cases .

“I am incredibly grateful for the sacrifices you made to bring this down. We still have a long way to go, ”said Democratic Governor Tim Walz on December 16 as he reversed some of these restrictions.

The state now allows open-air dining again, but has maintained its ban on indoor dining, which has prompted more than 150 restaurant, bar and small business owners to speak out against a Facebook group called the ReOpen Minnesota Coalition.

The state attorney general filed lawsuits against two bars that opened to large internal 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’s exaggerations,” he said.

Last Friday, the state secured a temporary restraining measure against opening the bar for internal service, but it remained open until Monday, according to Michael Padden, the bar’s lawyer. At a hearing on Wednesday morning, Judge Jerome Abrams said he would make a decision as soon as possible.

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