A US bar and restaurant popular with university students which re-opened earlier this month has been linked to over 100 new coronavirus cases.
One hundred and seven Covid-19 cases are believed to have come from Harper’s Restaurant & Brew Pub in Michigan, though officials have refrained from closing the venue.
An emergency order has, however, been imposed by Ingham County reducing all restaurant capacity to 50 percent or no more than 75 people.
People who visited the East Lansing restaurant between June 12 and 20 are being advised to seek testing and self-quarantine for 14 days, from when they visited.
All of the people with cases linked to Harper’s are aged between 16 and 28, with at least 40 per cent Michigan State University students or recent graduates, according to the local authority.
None of those infected have been hospitalised and most have mild symptoms with 28 people being asymptomatic.
A public testing event was set to be held on Tuesday afternoon on the MSU campus.
Executive Order 2020-114 already restricts restaurant capacity to 50 percent of normal seating, but it did not initially impose a limitation.
The county’s emergency order directly affects large licensed food service establishments with capacities of more than 150.
No food service establishment may have more than 75 patrons at one time.
“Large crowds are difficult to control,” said Ingham County Health Officer Linda S. Vail.
“By allowing no more than 75 people, restaurants and bars will be better able to enforce social distancing and the use of masks and face coverings.
“I strongly encourage all bars and restaurants to strictly enforce safety measures and to do all they can to help stop the spread of coronavirus in our community.”
The case count includes 95 primary cases (people who went to Harper’s during the exposure period) and 12 secondary cases (people who were in contact with a primary case but did not go to Harper’s themselves).
Of the primary cases, 59 are residents of Ingham County.
The others have permanent residency in Clinton, Oakland, Wayne, St. Clair, Macomb, Eaton, Shiawassee, Livingston, Kalamazoo, Ottawa, Berrien and Calhoun counties.
It comes as California ordered some bars to close on Sunday, the first major rollback of efforts to reopen the economy in the most populous U.S. state as cases nationwide continue to soar to record levels day after day.
Governor Gavin Newsom’s order for bars to close in Los Angeles and six other counties followed moves by Texas and Florida to shut all their bars on Friday.
Public health officials in California and throughout the United States have identified bars as the riskiest non-essential businesses currently open.
Consuming alcohol reduces inhibitions, which leads to less mask-wearing and social distancing, health officials warn.
Patrons in noisy bars often shout, which spreads droplets more widely.