Chicago announced business curfew and banned large social gatherings as COVID-19 cases rise

A healthcare worker put on their personal protective equipment (PPE) before administering coronavirus tests to patients at the Lee Davis Community Resource Center on June 25, 2020 in Tampa, Florida. The USF Health system partnered with the Hillsborough County Government to provide coronavirus testing at several location sites throughout the county. (Photo by Octavio Jones/Getty Images)

(CNN) — Businesses in Chicago will now have to shut down by 10 p.m., following a new order that aims to curb the latest surge of Covid-19.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the curfew for nonessential businesses on Thursday. The move is an effort to avoid “catastrophic” results later, Lightfoot said during a news conference. She called a recent increase in hospitalizations “worrying.”

“This is a critical moment for us and is really going to determine what we all experience for months to come,” said Lightfoot. “There’s no other option. It doesn’t exist.”

The 10 p.m. curfew goes into effect Friday and will last for two weeks, a news release from the mayor’s office says. Bars without a retail food license won’t be able to serve customers indoors at any time. And all establishments that serve alcohol for on-site consumption must end service at 9 p.m.

The city is also asking Chicagoans to avoid social gatherings of more than six people and to end all social gatherings by 10 p.m.

While these restrictions are meant to be in place through early November, part of the main metric to reopen will come from driving the positivity rate — the percentage of all coronavirus tests performed that are actually positive — back down below 5%. Chicago is currently seeing a 6.4% positivity rate, up from 4.6% last week.

Some 460 patients were hospitalized Thursday with Covid-19 or suspected Covid-19, Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said. That was up from 314 at the start of this week and up from 249 hospitalized patients one month ago, Arwady added.

Over just the past two weeks, 42 states have seen hospitalizations increase by more than 5%, according to the Covid Tracking Project. Ten states recorded their highest number of Covid-19 hospitalizations Tuesday: Arkansas, Iowa, Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin, according to the researchers.

“Everyone is exhausted, and nobody wants to hear more bad news, but it’s pretty clear that this fall/winter surge is now finally arriving,” Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, told CNN this week.