Crystal Williams of Julia's Wine and Bar in Ridgewood, Queens,...

Crystal Williams of Julia's Wine and Bar in Ridgewood, Queens, says dining in has dropped sharply since the COVID-19 outbreak. Credit: Kendall Rodriguez

Restaurants, cafes, bars and other eateries in New York City will be indefinitely restricted to takeout and delivery — and “nightclubs, movie theaters, small theater houses, and concert venues must all close,” under an executive order to be signed Monday by Mayor Bill de Blasio to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

The order takes effect Tuesday at 9 a.m., according to a statement sent by his office.

“This is not a decision I make lightly. These places are part of the heart and soul of our city," the statement says. "They are part of what it means to be a New Yorker. But our city is facing an unprecedented threat, and we must respond with a wartime mentality."

“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,” de Blasio said. 

The order takes effect the morning of St. Patrick's Day — one of the busiest drinking days of the year — a specter raised at a news conference earlier Sunday in which the mayor threatened to fine bars and restaurants failing to comply with a state order last week capping occupancy to 50 percent. 

At the news conference, de Blasio had hinted about what was to come. "If you love your neighborhood bar," he said, "go there now ... because we don't know what the future holds."  

In a statement sent to reporters hours before the announcement, suggesting the industry had learned early about the mayor's plans, the NYC Hospitality Alliance said: "In the coming days, New York City's restaurants will be forced to go deliver-only and risk their very existence to help stem the spread of this pandemic. Third-party delivery platforms now must reciprocate and immediately waive or cap fees at 10%, or many of these restaurants will close for good before the week is through."

Two weeks ago, de Blasio gave New Yorkers a different message. 

"We have a lot of information now," de Blasio said then at a news conference, "information that is actually showing us things that should give us more reason to stay calm and go about our lives." But since then, the number of confirmed cases in the state has grown and there are now five confirmed deaths in the city from the virus, officials said Sunday.

Italy, which with 24,747 cases and 1,809 dead has the highest number of coronavirus dead in Europe, didn't close its restaurants, cafes, bars and other venues until after hospitals were overwhelmed with patients.

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