New York City and Los Angeles close all bars and restaurants

The Stonewall Inn in New York City (Photo: David Hudson)
The Stonewall Inn in New York City (Photo: David Hudson)

New York City and Los Angeles have ordered the temporary closure of all bars and restaurants due to the spread of Coronavirus. Some LGBTQ venues in both cities had already decided to close before the orders were announced Sunday evening.

Most lockdowns will commence today and continue until at least March 30. 

The move comes following similar orders in Illinois, Ohio, Washington, and Massachusetts. 

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It is highly likely that other cities will follow suit. On Sunday evening, the Center for Disease Control issued a recommendation, “all events of 50 or more people” be canceled for the next eight weeks. 

In Las Vegas, MGM has announced the closure of its casinos and hotels. 

In New York City, Mayor Bill De Blasio said, “The virus can spread rapidly through the close interactions New Yorkers have in restaurants, bars and places where we sit close together. We have to break that cycle.

“These places are part of the heart and soul of our city. They are part of what it means to be a New Yorker,” de Blasio said. “But our city is facing an unprecedented threat, and we must respond with a wartime mentality.”

Bars will close and restaurants will only be allowed to serve takeaway options. 

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De Blasio’s announcement came just hours after New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, announced that schools would be closed in an effort to stem the spread of the virus.

The New York City announcement was followed by a similar statement from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who also announced that gyms must close. Most movie theaters in both cities have also shut down. 

The New York order will go into effect from 9am Tuesday. However, many venues have already shut for business. 

Famed Christopher Street gay venue Rock Bar posted Friday evening, “As the news about the current state of the city progresses, we have decided not to be open the rest of the weekend … Until we get to see you again, Wash your hands, Stay safe and healthy.”

Therapy announced Sunday evening it was “With a heavy heart, we are following the advice of scientists and closing until further notice.”

New York City is also home to the most-famous gay bar in the world, The Stonewall Inn – now a designated National Monument. GayCities has reached out to the venue for comment. 

In Los Angeles, the closures came into effect at midnight and will last until at least March 31. There is great concern about the financial impact it will have on many small businesses and their staff.

Los Angeles Mayor urged people to continue to support LA restaurants by ordering takeaways.

“I encourage all Angelenos to help support these critical small businesses — the restaurants we love in our neighborhoods — by continuing to order from them or getting takeout or delivery.”

Gay venue Precinct DTLA was among those to post about closing, saying, “It’s heartbreaking to put members of our family in the now too-common position of joblessness, but once our health officials can get this situation under control, we can all come together and celebrate the end of this mess.”

Bar closures have already begun to take place in other major cities.

Yesterday, San Francisco’s longest-running LGBTQ club, The Stud, announced it was closing for seven weeks following guidance from authorities.

“For the first time since 1966, The Stud is shutting its doors. The city of San Francisco has decided that during the pandemic it’s better for clubs of our size to remain closed for the next 7 weeks. For now, they’re telling us that we can reopen on May 1st.

“City Hall has always supported us, and we support them in this decision. Stopping the spread of the virus and protecting the vulnerable members of our families and community has got to be the first priority for everyone.”

Authorities are reminding people to frequently wash their hands, practice social distancing (i.e. limit the number of people you see or mix with), and to self-isolate if they suspect they have any symptoms of coronavirus. For more advice, check the guidance from the World Health Organization.