US states shut beaches and bars and require masks amid surge in virus cases

Imogen Braddick
AFP via Getty Images

Leaders in several US states have shut down beaches, bars and gyms amid a sharp spike in coronavirus cases across the country's Sun Belt.

Arizona, Texas, Florida and California have halted lockdown easing measures, while some states have ordered residents to wear masks in public.

Doug Ducye, Arizona’s Republican governor, ordered an immediate closure of bars, cinemas, water parks and gyms on Monday, which will last for at least 30 days.

He also ordered public schools to delay the start of classes until at least August 17.

Since the pandemic began, 74,500 cases and 1,588 deaths stemming from the virus have been reported in Arizona.

Most Arizona bars and nightclubs opened after the governor’s stay-at-home and business closure orders were allowed to expire in mid-May.

But health officials reported 3,858 coronavirus cases in the state on Sunday, the most reported in a single day so far and the seventh time in the past 10 days that daily cases surpassed the 3,000 mark.

“Our expectation is that our numbers next week will be worse,” Mr Ducey said Monday.

The state is not alone in its reversal. Places such as Texas, Florida and California are closing beaches and bars amid a resurgence of the virus.

Bars are empty in Phoenix, Arizona (AP)

In New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy announced on Monday that he is postponing the restarting of indoor dining because people have not been wearing face masks or complying with recommendations for social distancing.

New Jersey has been slowly reopening, and indoor shopping malls were cleared to start business again on Monday.

Meanwhile, less than a week after Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said there would be no mask requirement in the Florida city, officials announced on Monday that coverings must be worn in “situations where individuals cannot socially distance”.

Democratic governors in Oregon and Kansas also said that they would require people to wear masks.

Cinemas have closed in many states amid a surge in cases (AP)

Idaho is moving in a different direction, at least when it comes to the elections.

Despite the continuing spread of the virus, state elections officials have said that they would allow in-person voting - as well as mail-in ballots - for August primaries and the November general election, the Idaho Statesman reported.

In Texas, a group of bar owners are suing to try to overturn Republican Governor Greg Abbott’s order closing their businesses.

They contend Mr Abbott does not have the authority, and they complained that other businesses, such as nail salons and tattoo studios, remain open.

“Governor Abbott continues to act like a king,” said Jared Woodfill, attorney for the bar owners.

“Mr Abbott is unilaterally destroying our economy and trampling on our constitutional rights.”

But Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said that Mr Abbott is on the right path, and he added that Mr Trump should order the wearing of masks.

“States that were recalcitrant …are doing a 180, and you have the same states now wearing masks,” Mr Cuomo said.

“Let the president have the same sense to do that as an executive order, and then let the president lead by example and let the president put a mask on it, because we know it works.”

White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany responded by saying the president’s advice is to “do whatever your local jurisdiction requests of you”.

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