March 16, 2020 / 2:52 AM / 20 days ago

New York City mayor orders restaurants, bars, theaters closed for coronavirus

NEW YORK, March 15 (Reuters) - The city that never sleeps will be taking a break from the action.

Mayor Bill de Blasio on Sunday said he was ordering the city’s famed restaurants, theaters, bars and movie houses closed in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Any restaurant, bar or cafe selling food will only be able to do so via delivery or take-out, according to the mayor.

“The virus can spread rapidly through the close interactions New Yorkers have in restaurants, bars and places where we sit close together,” de Blasio said. “We have to break that cycle.”

The mayor said it was not a decision he was making lightly.

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

There was no word yet on how long the businesses would remain closed. The mayor’s office did not immediately respond to requests for more details on the executive order, which de Blasio plans to announce on Monday.

More than 50,000 restaurants in New York were expected to shutter by Tuesday at 9 a.m. According to the National Restaurant Association, restaurants account for more than $51 billion in annual revenue and have more than 800,000 employees.

“We will come through this, but until we do, we must make whatever sacrifices necessary to help our fellow New Yorkers,” de Blasio said.

Before word of the mayor’s order came out, a New York police cruiser was seen in the East Village neighborhood, a pillar of the city’s night life scene, telling patrons of bars and restaurants to disperse and go home. Several businesses closed up shop shortly afterward. (Reporting by Leela de Krester in New York Additional reporting by Brad Brooks in Austin, Texas. Editing by Gerry Doyle)

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