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17 Nov, 2020 23:58

Ohio imposes curfew & Illinois moves to highest Covid-19 mitigation tier amid increase in new cases

Ohio imposes curfew & Illinois moves to highest Covid-19 mitigation tier amid increase in new cases

US Midwest states are joining the rush to impose stricter Covid-19 rules after a jump in new infections, with Ohio Governor Mike DeWine ordering a 10pm curfew and Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker ratcheting up restrictions.

DeWine, a Republican who drew the ire of President Donald Trump by acknowledging Joe Biden as president-elect on Sunday, announced a curfew on Tuesday that will run from 10pm to 5am for at least three weeks. People who have to go to work during those hours will be exempted, and restaurants will be allowed to provide delivery and carry-out service after 10pm.

The curfew will come into effect on Thursday. DeWine was looking for ways to slow the spread of Covid-19 without devastating Ohio's economy after the number of new infections in the state tripled in the past three weeks to a record high of 8,071 on Friday. He also urged residents to wear masks and voluntarily reduce their contacts with other people.

"We believe this is the best choice to slow things down," DeWine said. "We're going to try this for 21 days." Violating the curfew is a second-degree misdemeanor, but the governor said he doesn't expect heavy-handed enforcement by police.

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The nature of the curfew, however, drew criticism from lawmakers. Some argued that the order was a drop in the bucket and more sweeping restrictions were necessary, while others insisted it lacked common sense.

"Does Governor DeWine think he is combating vampires or werewolves?" Aryeh Alex, executive director of Ohio House Democrats, tweeted.

US Representative Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) joined in ridiculing the state's Covid-19 rules, tweeting: "In Ohio, you can play music at a wedding, but you can't dance to it. You can play games at an arcade, but you better not socialize in a common area, You can order a beer at 9:59pm, but not 10:01pm. Makes total sense."

In Illinois, Pritzker said on Tuesday that the entire state will operate under Tier 3 mitigation for Covid-19, meaning such businesses as casinos, museums and movie theaters will be closed, and restaurants and bars won't be allowed to offer indoor table service. Fitness centers and most retailers will be limited to operating at 25 percent of their normal capacity, and office businesses will be encouraged to have their employees work from home whenever possible.

“We're asking you to choose Zoom instead of packing people in a room for Thanksgiving,” Pritzker tweeted.

The new statewide restrictions will come into effect on Friday. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot's new stay-at-home order commenced on Monday. Home gatherings with people from other households are banned. The city lockdown is scheduled to last for 30 days, meaning Thanksgiving gatherings will be prohibited.

Pritzker stopped short of such a crackdown but said a statewide stay-at-home order could become necessary if his latest rules aren't followed. The state has averaged more than 12,000 new Covid-19 cases daily over the past week, up from around 2,000 in early October.

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The Ohio and Illinois orders follow announcements of new or tightened Covid-19 restrictions in several states over the past few days, including New Jersey, California, Michigan and Washington. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds imposed new measures on Monday, including her first statewide mask mandate.

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