By Adam Sexton

CONCORD, N.H. — BREAKING NEWS

Gov. Chris Sununu is calling on New Hampshire restaurants and bars to shift operations to take-out, delivery or drive-through services only in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The order will take effect after the close of business Monday night.

The governor said there was growing concern that St. Patrick’s Day revelers who couldn’t go out in Massachusetts would head north to New Hampshire, potentially hastening the spread of the coronavirus in the Granite State.

Move follows similar order in Massachusetts ahead of St. Patrick’s Day.

“We reached out to a few different cities across the state, and that was one of the things we heard,” Sununu said. “It’s St. Patrick’s Day. A lot of people may be coming out of Boston. There’s a higher infection rate there. There was concern that a tight public gathering would be contrary to public health advisories that were out there, and we want to make sure we’re protecting folks.”

Sununu said the order will last until at least April 6, when the state will reassess the threat of the virus.

More broadly, public gatherings will be limited to 50 or fewer people. The moves are ones the governor said he does not take lightly.

“We do have to make some tough decisions, but the health and safety of our citizens is paramount,” he said.

Restaurant owners said the order will hurt business.

“I think it is absolutely devastating to us, to downtown,” said Patrick Mills, general manager of Bonfire. “The owners, the service industry workers, the state, the country — it’s devastating news. I just found out now and am trying to process it all. Tomorrow is such a big day for so many people.”

Mills said his restaurant will try to find ways to help its workers.

“We’re going to do the very best we can,” Mills said. “We have another bar in Portland, but Portland is closed longer than New Hampshire is right now. We will stand by our employees and find work for them somehow.”

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