On Saturday March 14 Apple Inc. announced that it would be closing all of its retail stores in the US and Europe for two weeks in an effort to combat Chinavirus (COVID-19). Like a canary in a coal mine the statement by Tim Cook triggered a series of temporary closings by other retailers across the US. As of today Nike, Patagonia, Glossier, Warby Parker and Urban Outfitters have also closed retail locations for the next two weeks.
The shuttering of retail stores has been matched by other places where crowds gather and over the past 48 hours most of America has shut down. Walt Disney World and other amusement parks in Florida and California are closed for business until the end of the month. Las Vegas casinos are closing as are gambling halls and convention centers from coast to coast.
California, Ohio, Illinois, Massachusetts and Washington all closed bars, restaurants and wineries in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus. Tonight all nightlife including restaurants, bars, theater and music halls was closed in New York City and will stay closed for weeks.
School’s out for summer starting at spring break. There will be on-line learning with the goal of keeping children educated outside of the classroom. This kind of teaching has never been tried at this scale or with distracted students cooped up at home for weeks.
The response to the Chinavirus has been unprecedented and America’s economy and political order has never experienced a systemic long term closing of commerce. The country and its leaders are in uncharted territory and there is a sense that this “closed for business” moment will be transformative for We the People and the constitutional order.