States Battle COVID-19 With New Restrictions

Retailers face renewed challenges as coronavirus spreads in the U.S.

November 19, 2020

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—New restrictions are coming to businesses around the country as the number of coronavirus cases climbs.

The Illinois governor has announced new rules will go into effect Friday, reports Retail stores will be able to remain open with capacity limits and mask requirements. General merchandise stores, big box stores, pharmacies and convenience stores may operate at 25% capacity, while grocery stores can operate at 50%. Bars and restaurants must close at 11 p.m. and may reopen no earlier than 6 a.m. the following day, but indoor seating is prohibited. The Illinois Restaurant Association has launched a social media campaign intended to muster public opposition to the restrictions.

“The second wave is now here … it’s more dire than what we saw in the spring,” said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, head of the Illinois Department of Public Health. “To slow the spread of the virus and to help prevent more cases, more hospitalizations [and] more deaths, more mitigation measures are being implemented.”

According to, Gov. Jay Inslee’s has ordered Washington state restaurants and bars to shut down indoor service and to limit outdoor service to parties of five or less. Indoor gatherings with people outside your household are prohibited unless participants have quarantined for at least a week and tested negative. The new restrictions will be in place for at least four weeks. Meanwhile, Washington Republicans say the state legislature should immediately meet in special session to address the economic fallout from the restrictions. Some want to draft legislation that would give businesses relief from property taxes and business and occupation taxes.

In the Southwestern U.S., residents of New Mexico have been instructed to shelter in place through Nov. 30, except for trips that are essential to health, safety and welfare—such as for food and water, according to the New Mexico Department of Health. The state will temporarily re-enact an order closing in-person services for all non-essential activities. The heightened restrictions statewide will remain in effect for two weeks. Food and drink establishments may provide curbside pickup and delivery services, but on-site dining is prohibited. Essential retail businesses, such as convenience stores and grocery stores, may not exceed 25% capacity, and they must close by 10 p.m. every night.

The governors of Ohio and New York announced yesterday that foodservice operations in their states must reduce or eliminate dine-in service again if less extreme efforts to bring down COVID-19 infection rates aren’t immediately effective, reports

On Monday, California health officials mandated that residents wear face coverings whenever they’re outside their homes, with few exceptions, and Los Angeles County health officials are expected to enact new restrictions—such as a business curfew, reports The curfew will require restaurants, wineries, breweries and other non-essential businesses to close at 10 p.m. daily. A 50% capacity limit will be imposed on restaurants with outdoor service.

Yesterday, Michigan entered a three-week “pause” of several activities—including in-person schooling, work in offices and all indoor dining, reports Essential businesses may remain open.

Meanwhile, the FDA announced Tuesday it will permit emergency use of the first rapid coronavirus test that can be performed at home and provide results in 30 minutes, according to the Star Tribune. The test requires a prescription, which will likely limit its initial use, but the announcement represents a big step in U.S. efforts to expand COVID-19 testing options beyond health-care facilities and testing sites. To date, the FDA has authorized nearly 300 tests for coronavirus.

The NACS Crack the Code Experience education sessions “Feeding the New Consumer: Health, Food Trends, Pandemics and More!” and “Adapting to the Covid-19 Disruption: Is There a 'New Normal'?” will focus on foodservice and store operation trends pushed to the forefront of consumers’ and employees’ minds due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Register by December 4 and get access to these sessions, along with 50+ education sessions, virtual showrooms and online networking within the convenience and fuel retailing industries.

Coronavirus Resources

NACS has compiled resources to help the convenience retail community navigate the COVID-19 crisis. For news updates and guidance, visit our coronavirus resources page.