ctnewsjunkie file photo
Gov. Ned Lamont and Gov. Andrew Cuomo last September at the governor’s mansion. (ctnewsjunkie file photo)

HARTFORD, CT – (Updated 3 p.m.) Gov. Ned Lamont joined New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy in announcing the closure of all restaurants and bars in the tri-state area starting tonight at 8 p.m.

After 8 p.m., bars and restaurants in all three states will be allowed to offer takeout service, but there will be no eat-in service until a date that has yet to be determined. Bars that do not serve food will be required to temporarily close.

There are more than 8,500 eating and drinking establishments across Connecticut and they employ more than 160,000 people.

“In the wake of Governor Lamont’s announcement, local restaurant owners will continue to offer safe, clean service to customers via takeout, curbside pickup and delivery. In the weeks ahead, we look forward to returning to full service once this difficult period has passed, so that our industry can continue to be an enormous economic driver for the state, and continue to employ tens of thousands of people throughout Connecticut,” Scott Dolch, executive director of the Connecticut Restaurant Association, said.

Lamont signaled Sunday that he was moving in this direction, but preferred a regional approach.

“We have agreed to a common set of rules that will pertain in all of our states, so don’t even think about going to a neighboring state,” Cuomo said during a conference call with reporters.

The three governors have been coordinating their response to the virus.

Lamont, who said he’s also been in touch with the governors of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, pointed out that this “is changing so fast we’ve got to work together.”

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced the closure of all restaurants and bars on Sunday.

Cuomo suggested the commercial casinos in New York and New Jersey would also close starting at 8 p.m. but it was unclear whether Connecticut’s two tribal casinos would also follow along with that order since they are sovereign nations.

“We are urging the tribes that they should be shutting down those casinos,” Lamont said.

He said he’s strongly urging the casinos, which attract large crowds, to close, and “heed our guidance to prohibit events of more than 50 people.”

“This should not be a legal or jurisdictional discussion,” Lamont tweeted. “It should be a discussion among tribal and state governmental partners in furtherance of public health.”

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council said it’s working with Lamont’s office and will have more information by the end of the day.

“From the start of the COVID-19 crisis, our Tribe has taken action to protect the health and wellness of our Team Members, patrons and Tribal Members.  We have already closed down various facilities, suspended bus transportation, instituted aggressive and thorough sanitation and cleaning processes, and inItiated social distancing. We consider our Team Members and guests as members of our extended family and their safety is paramount in our minds,” the tribal council said in a statement.

Foxwoods Resort Casino, which is run by the Mashantucket Pequots, has shut down some of its operations, including its poker tables and several concerts and events.

By midafternoon Mohegan Sun Casino, run by the Mohegan Tribal Nation, announced it was canceling events at the Mohegan Sun Arena and Expo Center, but would continue to operate its resort casino.

The governors also agreed to ban gatherings of 50 or more people.

The closings are an effort to reduce density and the potential spread of COVID-19.

All three governors assumed that the virus at some point would overwhelm the hospital systems in their states.

During the half-hour conference call, Cuomo called on the federal government to do more about hospital capacity.

“When these cases hit their apex we will not have enough hospital beds,” Cuomo said. “We need the Army Corps of Engineers to come in here now and build hospital capacity.”

He said they are best situated to build hospital capacity.