For the past few months, Americans have been watching as parades have been canceled, flights delayed, and entire countries shut down in response to the ongoing new coronavirus pandemic. On a state and local level, multiple states and cities have called for restaurants and bars to close dine-in services, and other restaurateurs have proactively shuttered their restaurants or pivoted to take out and delivery services only. But through it all, President Trump has insisted it’s all under control, or it’s totally overblown, or it’ll go away when it gets warmer (???) so there’s no need to change our behavior. This goes against basically every piece of advice from doctors and the CDC and other government officials, who recommend limiting human contact as much as possible in order to flatten the curve.
Today, though, the White House finally issued new guidelines for COVID-19, which includes advice to “avoid eating or drinking in bars, restaurants, and food courts.”
White House releases new coronavirus guidance: pic.twitter.com/6iuzd4SM6Z— NBC News (@NBCNews) March 16, 2020
The new guidelines suggest avoidance of social gatherings of more than 10 people, stricter than the CDC’s previous guidelines of avoiding gatherings of more than 50 people. Rather than frequent restaurants, the White House suggests using delivery or take out services, echoing the advice local and state governments, doctors, and anyone who’s seen a hand-washing meme has been giving for weeks now.
The spread of new coronavirus is hitting the restaurant industry hard, and these new federal guidelines do not clarify whether federal assistance for unemployed restaurant workers will be part of the deal (a coronavirus relief bill is currently being held up by a Republican representative). But at least now maybe your relatives who keep insisting on going out to dinner because “it’s basically the flu” will think twice.