Trump administration discussing possible encouragement of nationwide curfew

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NEW ROCHELLE, NEW YORK – MARCH 11: Empty streets, restaurants and cafes make up the business area in the one mile containment zone on March 11, 2020 in New Rochelle, New York. New Rochelle, a city just north of New York City, has become the state’s largest source of COVID-19 infections, prompting Governor Andrew Cuomo to announce Tuesday that officials will be implementing a one mile radius “containment area” there to try to halt the spread of Coronavirus. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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There are active discussions within the Trump administration to encourage a possible “curfew” across the nation in which non-essential businesses would be encouraged to close by a certain time each night in response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to an administration official and another source familiar with the matter.

The recommendation would likely focus on malls, restaurants and bars, while grocery stores and pharmacies could be exempt from the curfew. The idea would be fashioned after the European model but would likely have to be enforced at a local level.

The source familiar tells CNN that a curfew could be strongly encouraged at the state level.

Vice President Mike Pence’s spokeswoman Katie Miller strongly disputed that a curfew was under consideration.

“A curfew is not on the table,” she said Monday morning.

Miller said curfews would not be part of the guidelines presented by the task force during President Donald Trump’s video teleconference with governors that took place later Monday morning. On the call, Trump urged governors to try to secure additional medical equipment on their own without waiting for the federal government to intervene, though he did say they would try to help.

“We will be backing you, but try getting it yourselves,” Trump said on the call, according to a person familiar. He was discussing what health experts say is a serious need for more respirators and ventilators to deal with the influx of coronavirus patients.

The possibility of nationwide curfews comes as many cities and states have already taken aggressive steps toward curbing social gatherings as the coronavirus outbreak progresses in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday recommended limiting public gatherings to less than 50 people.

New Jersey residents are no longer allowed to travel from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. ET, with the exception of essential travel, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday.

The state, along with New York and Connecticut, announced a ban on gatherings of more than 50 people on Monday. The three states agreed to close casinos, gyms and movies will close at 8 p.m. ET Monday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order that temporarily closes public accommodation places such as theaters, bars, casinos, and gyms until the end of the month. She is also limiting restaurants to carry out, delivery or drive-thru only.

And Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo has said gatherings in her state should be capped at no more than 25 people.

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