Boise mayor orders restaurants and bars to close dine-in facilities at midnight

Posted at 1:40 PM, Mar 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-19 17:38:03-04

BOISE, Idaho — This article was written with help from Hayley Harding with the Idaho Statesman.

Boise Mayor Lauren McLean announced Thursday she would mandate the closure of restaurants and bars effective at 12 a.m. Friday morning.

That means people will have to use pick-up, drive-thru or delivery options, she said. The city will be closing parking meters in front of restaurants so those spots may be used to pick up food, McLean said.

McLean’s announcement comes the day after Idaho Gov. Brad Little said he would not be mandating the shutdown of any businesses or restaurants, instead urging people to use drive-thru or takeout dining options. On Wednesday afternoon, the Statesman published a drafted letter from restaurant owners asking Idaho Gov. Brad Little to shut down their industry immediately for 30 days and grant restaurant workers emergency unemployment compensation.

In the letter, owners cited concerns over how staying open could mean trouble for their employees, their business and the community at large. Shutting down businesses would provide them with a “safety net,” the letter says.

At least 23 states across the country have ordered restaurants to close at least somewhat for dine-in patrons, although many are still allowing takeout, delivery and drive-thru services. Several large cities, including New York, Miami and Washington, D.C., have similar restrictions.

Idaho has 11 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Thursday, three of which are in Ada County. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised people to distance themselves from others and to avoid gathering in groups of 10 or more. President Donald Trump has encouraged people to stay out of restaurants and bars.

City buildings have been closed since Tuesday, including City Hall and the Boise Public Library facilities, after McLean declared a public emergency on Monday.

McLean also said that child card facilities with licenses that expire in March or April will have their licenses extended for eight weeks to ensure facilities stay open. New child care workers who need to be licensed will be able to do the federally required fingerprinting with an appointment at Boise City Hall.

The license renewals includes childcare facilities, in-home daycares and childcare workers. The Clerk's office will email and mail updated licenses by the end of this week. Individuals can apply for new licenses online through the City of Boise website.

The city will also suspend meetings of many of Boise’s boards, commissions and committees, McLean said, although that will not include the Boise City Council. The council will still hold meetings on Tuesdays to give updates on COVID-19 and address pressing matters.

The City of Boise is creating a hotline and dedicated email to answer questions from the public. In the meantime, head to the City of Boise website for more information.