New York City restaurants struggling to stay in business after months of closures imposed in the face of the coronavirus pandemic won a long-awaited approval on Wednesday to resume limited indoor dining.
But Los Angeles County health officials have prohibited Halloween parties and said children should not be allowed to trick or treat during the popular holiday on 31 October.
The contrasting moves on opposite coasts of the United States came as new coronavirus infections have fallen for seven weeks in a row but the nationwide death toll since the pandemic broke out in March exceeded 190,000, according to a Reuters tally.
In New York City, Governor Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday said indoor dining could resume at thousands of restaurants as of 30 September, although capacity was limited to 25%.
Cuomo had previously said lifting the ban could lead to a resurgence of the virus in New York, which has seen 32,000 deaths, more than any other US state.
Restaurants will also be required to take the temperature of diners and collect information from one member of each party for contact tracing in case of an outbreak.
The state will establish a whistle-blowing system whereby patrons can anonymously report restaurants not in compliance.
New York City could raise the capacity to 50% after a reassessment conducted by 1 November, depending on infection rates, Cuomo said. Most of New York state is operating with indoor dining at 50% capacity.
In Los Angeles, health officials said children should not be allowed to trick or treat because maintaining proper social distancing on porches and at front doors would be difficult and “because sharing food is risky”.
“Halloween gatherings, events or parties with non-household members are not permitted even if they are conducted outdoors,” the department said in statement entitled “Guidance for Celebrating Halloween”.
County health officials also banned Halloween carnivals, festivals, live entertainment and haunted houses.