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Updated at 9:50 p.m. ET
In an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now advising against gatherings of 50 people or more for the next eight weeks.
In a guidance announcement issued on Sunday, the agency said it was warning against large events and mass gatherings that include “conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events, weddings, and other types of assemblies.”
The agency called on organizers, whether they are individuals or organizations, to cancel or postpone such events. However, it said the guidance did not apply to the daily operations of organizations like schools, institutes of higher learning or businesses.
“This recommendation is made in an attempt to reduce introduction of the virus into new communities and to slow the spread of infection in communities already affected by the virus,” according to the guidance announcement. “This recommendation is not intended to supersede the advice of local public health officials.”
Illinois to shut down bars, restaurants
The CDC guidance came as states and cities across the country moved on Sunday to limit large gatherings in order to help halt the spread of an outbreak that has infected at least 3,499 people in the U.S. and resulted in 63 deaths, according to tracking by Johns Hopkins University.
J.B. Pritzker, the governor of Illinois, ordered all bars and restaurants to close through March 30 beginning on Monday.
“The time for persuasion and public appeals is over,” Pritzker said at a press conference on Sunday as St. Patrick’s Day revelers in Chicago were already hitting bars in large groups. “This is not a joke. No one is immune to this.”
There are 93 confirmed coronavirus cases in the state, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Pritzker said drive-throughs will be allowed to stay open and added that he’s working with establishments to keep kitchens open so that food can still be delivered to homes.
The order affects roughly 25,000 businesses across the state, sending home hundreds of thousands of workers, the local CBS News outlet reports.
The Illinois Restaurant Association backed the governor’s decision, declaring safety its priority.
“We are currently working with other stakeholders to explore all possible avenues of economic and regulatory relief for our industry in the days and weeks ahead,” the group said in a statement.