Curfews, stay-at-home orders and mask mandates: Even more governors tighten virus rules as testing lines grow

Curfews, stay-at-home orders and mask mandates: Even more governors tighten virus rules as testing lines grow
Even more governors on Thursday tightened restrictions across the U.S. in an effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus, as Americans yet again are reportedly dealing with long lines and wait times for results of coronavirus tests ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

Governors in California, Maine, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Arkansas on Thursday joined a slew of other states in announcing new limits on where residents can go, what they can do and who they can be with as virus cases continue to rise. On Thursday new cases in the U.S. again exceeded 170,000 according to Johns Hopkins University, far higher than the numbers seen in the surges of the spring or the summer. 

Meanwhile, many coronavirus testing sites around the country are seeing a growing number of Americans attempting to get tested and are unable to efficiently handle the rush, according to reports. CBS Denver reported that some testing sites in Colorado were reaching their capacity by about 9 a.m. The New York Times last week reported hourslong lines for tests in that state.

The Baltimore Sun reported Thursday that in Maryland, some sites are also struggling to handle lines as Gov. Larry Hogan urges those entering the state for the Thanksgiving holiday to get coronavirus tests. 

Thursday’s new orders in Maine and California were particularly stringent, joining states like Minnesota, Kentucky, Oregon and Michigan which put highly restrictive bans on inter-household gatherings that would upend many families’ Thanksgiving plans.


Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo Thursday issued a “social gathering limit” that bars anyone in the state from spending time in a social setting with anybody from outside of their household. Other states have limited gatherings to two or three households, but Raimondo joins just Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz in barring social gatherings of any different households.

This, according to Raimondo, means family members that don’t live together may not spend Thanksgiving together.

“Starting today, we’re lowering the social gathering limit to a single household,” she said. “This means you should not be spending time socially with anyone you don’t live with — this includes on Thanksgiving.”

Raimondo also gave notice of a plan to start what she termed a “two-week-pause” on Nov. 30, which is the Monday after Thanksgiving. That pause includes closures of bars, offices where workers can telecommute, in-person college classes, indoor sports facilities besides NCAA and professional sports, and more.


The pause will also involve a 25% or 125-person occupancy limit on houses of worship, a 33% capacity limit on indoor dining with one household allowed per table and limited capacity in retail stores. In-person pre-school and middle school; child care; personal services like barbers; and health care will remain open. 

Also on Thursday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom partially brought back his stay-at-home orders from earlier this year. 

Newsom ordered that all counties in the state’s “purple” tier or higher in terms of coronavirus cases enter a partial stay-at-home order, meaning that people may not leave their residences for anything besides essential work between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.. It begins Saturday at 10 p.m. and continues through much of December. 


“Due to the rise in #COVID19 cases, CA is issuing a limited Stay at Home Order,” Newsom said in a tweet. “Non-essential work and gatherings must stop from 10pm-5am in counties in the purple tier. This will take effect at 10pm on Saturday and remain for 1 month. Together–we can flatten the curve again.”

California does not have as strict a social gathering limit as Rhode Island, however.

The California Department of Public Health recommends that families keep their Thanksgiving celebrations brief and hold them outdoors. It also recommends that only two households mark the holiday together.

That is just a recommendation, however. The department mandates issues last week caps gatherings at three households in California.

Also banned are certain activities at indoor gatherings, according to the California Department of Public Health.

“Singing, chanting, shouting, cheering, playing of wind instruments and similar activities are not permitted in indoor gatherings,” the department says. It also discourages, but does not ban, these activities outdoors.

Maine, Arkansas and New Hampshire also announced coronavirus mitigation orders on Thursday, though they were not as draconian as those in California and Rhode Island.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu issued a mask mandate for indoor public spaces and outdoor areas where social distancing is not possible. Sununu, a Republican, joins a handful of other GOP governors in embracing mask mandates, notably following North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum who issued a mask mandate last Friday after for months saying he would not do so. 

“People who have tuned into these press conferences for the last eight months know how seriously we have encouraged mask wearing, but today we are elevating that message even further given the seriousness of this crisis,” Sununu said in a tweet Thursday. 

“In looking at the data, it is clear that a statewide mask mandate is in the best interest of our citizens,” he added. “Our hospitalization rate is increasing. We have always said that we cannot let our health care system get overrun, and instituting this mandate will help.”


Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson Thursday ordered that sell alcohol to be consumed on the premises must close by 11 p.m.

“In an effort to reduce the spread of the virus as a result of prolonged social interaction in group settings, I am accepting the recommendation of the Winter COVID Task Force to require bars, restaurants, and clubs that sell alcohol for consumption in their establishment to close at 11 p.m.,” he said. “This is a balanced approach that is limited and targeted as we work to reduce new COVID cases in our state.”

Maine Gov. Janice Mills, meanwhile, announced Thursday that many different types of businesses deemed to be at high risk for spreading the virus will be forced to close at 9 p.m. This includes movie theatres, bars, casinos, performance venues and more. 

“As we enter the colder months and a holiday season when we customarily gather with friends and family, we are also entering a new and dangerous phase of the pandemic,” Mills said in a statement. “This targeted and temporary step will reduce extended gatherings while keeping the businesses open. Other steps may be necessary in the coming weeks if we do not get this virus under control.”

Mills’ order takes effect Friday and will last until Dec. 6. 


Pushback to the lockdowns and coronavirus orders has been fierce from some, as frustration builds over the side effects of things like stay-at-home orders, an apparent desire by some officials to have measures like masks continue even after widespread vaccination and alleged hypocrisy from the politicians implementing the rules. 

“The audacity of the media & politicians to wag their fingers at us plebeians for not taking this virus ‘seriously enough’ bc we have to work, go to school & want to see our families on Thanksgiving, while they’re breaking their own rules & applauding social justice protests. Bye,” tweeted Allie Beth Stuckey, a conservative podcaster and author. 

“I read a tweet yesterday that I almost QTed but didn’t because she was being so naively earnest,” Bethany Mandel, an editor at Ricochet, said Monday. “But she said cancel Thanksgiving and Christmas this year so we can have it next year. And I was like ‘oh honey, we don’t believe that anymore.’ Anyway, 15 days to slow the spread.”

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