Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered bars to close in seven counties Sunday due to the rising spread of the coronavirus, while also recommending that bars close in Santa Barbara County, among others.
According to the governor, the bar closures are required in Los Angeles, Fresno, Imperial, Kern, Kings, San Joaquin and Tulare counties.
The closures are recommended for Santa Barbara, Ventura, Sacramento, Contra Costa, Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Clara, and Stanislaus counties.
“COVID-19 is still circulating in California, and in some parts of the state, growing stronger,” Gov. Newsom said in a written statement. “That’s why it is critical we take this step to limit the spread of the virus in the counties that are seeing the biggest increases.”
The closures are mandated in the counties that have been on the state’s watch list for more than two weeks. The counties that Gov. Newsom recommended bar closures have been on the watch list for at least three days, but not a full two weeks.
According to the state Department of Public Health, Santa Barbara County has been on the watch list for 13 days.
“Santa Barbara County may be mandated to issue a health officer order to close bars given the rising case count locally. The County Health Officer is strongly considering options to address these concerns,” said Jackie Ruiz, spokeswoman for the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department.
According to the order, brewpubs, breweries, bars and pubs are asked to close unless they are offering sit-down or dine-in meals. Wineries and tasting rooms are not included in the recommendation. The county Public Health Department is continuing to track local metrics and is expected to have further updates on the state’s recommendation in the coming days.
“According to CDPH, bars are social environments where groups of people mix,” Ms. Ruiz said. “In these environments, alcohol consumption reduces inhibition and impairs judgment, leading to reduced compliance with recommended core personal protective measures, such as the mandatory use of face coverings and the practice of social and physical distancing. Bars are generally louder environments requiring raised voices leading to the greater projection of droplets.These factors present a higher likelihood of transmission of COVID-19 within groups, between groups, and among the workforce.”
Dr. Henning Ansorg, health officer for the county, said the state’s recommendation comes at “a critical time.”
“I implore all community members to adhere to strict physical distancing at all times and avoid gatherings. Until there is a vaccine, the use of face coverings in conjunction with physical distancing is the most effective way to stop the spread of this virus,” Dr. Ansorg said in a statement. “The State’s recommendation comes at a critical time. There is still an opportunity to make a difference in the course of this pandemic, but we must all recommit to this effort.”
For more information, including reaction from local bar owners, see Monday’s News-Press.