Business Closures & Reopening

The CUSP database documents the dates each state implemented policies to close facilities and businesses to limit person-to-person contact and slow the spread of COVID-19. These include mandated closures and reopenings for daycare, religious gatherings, restaurants, bars, gyms, casinos, and other non-essential businesses. Researchers can use these data to evaluate the impact of statewide policy changes on population health and health equity, both in terms of COVID-19 case and death counts and other measures of physical and mental well-being.


There is evidence that the virus spreads efficiently in indoor spaces, especially when people remove their masks to eat or drink in restaurants or bars. A report published by the CDC found that allowing any on-premises dining at restaurants was associated with increases in daily COVID-19 case and death growth rates. Closing restaurants and bars—in concert with policies to prevent economic precarity among people who worked in them—can be an important measure for reducing COVID-19. International research also highlights the role of traveler quarantines in reducing COVID-19 cases and deaths.

Members of the CUSP team conducted a study published in Nature Human Behaviour indicating that people in lower-income census block groups were less likely to stay home and more likely to keep going to work during the initial COVID-19 surge and shut downs, pointing to the role of essential work in continued COVID-19 exposure.


COVID-19 transmission in the workplace is abundant, especially in settings such as restaurants, meatpacking plants, warehouses, and construction sites that are often crowded and poorly ventilated. Many restaurant workers reported feeling frustration and grief about society considering them “essential” but not protecting their emotional, physical, or financial well-being.