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Watch Now: Gov. Stitt sets early closing for bars as COVID-19 continues to spread

Watch Now: Gov. Stitt sets early closing for bars as COVID-19 continues to spread

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"Now is the time to do more," Gov. Kevin Stitt said Monday as he required bars and restaurants to close at 11 p.m.

Stitt cited a 19% increase in the past week to hospitalizations across the state.

The state’s death toll from COVID-19 rose to 1,538, and 1,249 remain hospitalized with confirmed or suspected cases as of the most recent survey of facilities.

"We're going to keep our businesses open safely, and we want to get all kids back in school at the end of the Christmas break," he said in a news conference from the Capitol. "In-person learning is so important to the development and the mental health of our children. Those are the goals, and it's going to take everyone's help in this to get there."

Stitt said effective Thursday, bars and restaurants will be required to close at 11 p.m., with no in-person food or beverage service after that time. Restaurants also must "ensure all tables are 6 feet apart." Stitt said properly sanitized dividers can be installed if safe spacing is not possible at the restaurant.

As of Wednesday, all state employees will be required to wear a mask in common areas and around people at work, Stitt said, effecting 33,000 employees. Masks will be required for those visiting state buildings.

The governor said he continues to ask Oklahomans to wear masks, watch their distance and wash their hands. He said it's the only way to slow the spread of the virus that has forced many districts into distance learning in recent weeks.

"This isn't about magic words, it's about doing the right thing," he said, adding that he's encouraged people wear masks since March.

Stitt cited Tulsa Public Schools as an example of a district with almost 100% distance learning since the academic year started, saying "it breaks my heart" that those students have not been able to learn in a classroom.

Watch here or via Stitt's official YouTube channel.

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