Current Covid Restrictions In The 5 Most Populated U.S. Cities

By Paula Gallagher··  4 min read
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Current Covid Restrictions In The 5 Most Populated U.S. Cities

As the COVID pandemic persists, different cities have varying levels of restrictions and different approaches to handling the virus.

New York City

Starting Friday, Nov. 13, bars, restaurants, and bowling alleys must close dining areas at 10pm. Dining areas are only permitted 25% capacity in NYC (everywhere else in the state it’s 50%). But the outdoor dining program has been made permanent, so restaurants can continue to utilize sidewalks and closed streets for outdoor dining areas. Curbside pickup will be permitted after 10pm. 

Also starting Friday, social gatherings at private homes are capped at 10 people, and gyms must also close for the day at 10pm. 

Gov. Cuomo has also instituted a cluster action initiative, which labels the borough of NYC as yellow, orange, or red, depending on the number of COVID cases. The restrictions increase as the number of cases increases. A red zone’s restrictions are: houses of worships can only have 10 people, mass gatherings are prohibited, only essential businesses are permitted to be open, dining is takeout only, and school must be remote.

Los Angeles

Los Angeles updated its COVID restrictions on November 6.

Stay at home except for essential activities. Masks are required anywhere outside of your home. All individuals engaging in exercise/outdoor activities must wear a cloth mask whenever contact with others. If you go to the beach, you must wear a mask at all times, except when you are in the water. 

All businesses are ordered to cease operations that require in-person attendance by workers at a workplace. Businesses, recreation sites, commercial properties, and activities that should remain closed include bars, movie theaters, concert venues, gyms, arcades, indoor playgrounds, and public saunas. Non-essential businesses are closed. Restaurants can operate via outdoor dining, drive-thru, curbside pickup, and delivery.

Public gatherings are prohibited, and private gatherings that include more than three households are prohibited. Permitted household gathers must be held outdoors and last less than two hours. Food and drink must be in single-serve disposable containers. Singing, chanting, and shouting are strongly discouraged, but if you do sing or chant, you must wear a mask and stay at least 8 feet from others. 


On November 10, Chicago updated its travel rules. States have been coded yellow, orange, or red based on their number of COVID cases. A visitor from an orange state must have a negative COVID test within 72 hours before arriving or quarantine for 14 days. A visitor from a red state is required to quarantine for 14 days.

Additionally, all non-essential businesses, including bars and restaurants, are now required to be closed from 11pm to 6am. Indoor dining for bars and restaurants remain closed and reservations are required for outdoor dining. Liquor stores must close at 9pm. All meetings and gatherings are limited to 25 guests or 25% of overall room capacity both indoors and outdoors.


According to the county website, Houston is rated at Level 1, which means residents are urged to stay home except for essential activities and minimize contact. 

However, under Governor Greg Abbott’s order, businesses are permitted to operate at 50% of 75% capacity depending on the number of local COVID cases. Some businesses — like local government, barbershops, and nail salons — as well as churches, do not have occupancy limits but must maintain social distancing. Bars are open at 50% capacity inside. Wearing a mask is still required when at an indoor public space and gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited in most circumstances.


Arizona is open for business for the most part. Masks are still required in enclosed public spaces where social distancing isn’t possible, and organized public events with more than 50 people are still prohibited. 

Bars whose primary business is the sale of alcohol can only operate via pick up, delivery, and drive-thru. Governor Doug Ducey and the Arizona Department of Health Services released requirements and guidelines for gyms, movie theaters, and water parks to reopen

Closing Thoughts

The different restrictions in these five most populous cities in America show how individualized the COVID response and experience can be.

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