On Sunday, June 28, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sunday ordered bars immediately closed in seven California counties that had only recently reopened as the result of the coronavirus spreading rapidly throughout those parts of the state. Newsom said that bars sets an especially higher risk of transmission. Eight other counties were also asked to issue local health orders closing bars.
Although a popular local bar in June Lake was just closed on June 27 for health order violations by the Mono County Public Health Officer, neither Inyo nor Mono counties are affected by the governor’s latest order.
The Governor’s order shuts down any bar, brewery or pub that sells alcoholic drinks without serving food at the same time. Those that sell food will either be subject to the stricter dine-in rules or asked to focus on takeout and patio service.
The mandatory immediate bar closure order included the counties of Los Angeles, Fresno, Kern, Kings, Imperial, San Joaquin, and Tulare.
Eight other counties have also been asked by state officials to issue local health orders closing bars. That list includes Contra Costa, Santa Clara, Sacramento, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Santa Barbara and Stanislaus counties.
In a statement, Newsom said, “Californians must remain vigilant against this virus,”. “COVID-19 is still circulating in California, and in some parts of the state, growing stronger. 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.”
Bars are considered by health authorities to be the highest-risk businesses during the pandemic. Contact tracing is also more difficult because of the constant mixing of bar patrons and no records kept of people coming and going.
The state’s public health department cited reasons why bars were being targeted in the order, saying they posed a higher risk of transmission of COVID-19.
- At bars, people mix with non-household members
- Alcohol reduces compliance w/social distancing, using masks
- Loud setting causes people to raise their voices and potentially lead to the “greater projection of oral emitted viral droplets”
- Contact tracing is harder because of the constant foot traffic
- Bars attract young people who tend to be less symptomatic and could unknowingly be spreading the coronavirus around
California is coping with a rapid rise in positive coronavirus cases, especially among younger adults, following social gatherings over Memorial Day weekend, with businesses reopening around the state, including restaurants, fitness centers, hair salons and other nonessential businesses.
Add into the mix the widespread street protests against police brutality resulting from the George Floyd killing in Minneapolis, combined with the reopening of beaches and high-volume summer vacation travel, means that the lid is essentially off on containment measures needed to keep infection rate numbers down.
California is not alone in closing bars. The governors of Arizona. Florida and Texas have also closed all the bars on Friday to slow down the spread of the coronavirus that has been exploding to record levels through their states. Others are likely to follow or extend reopening plans to a later date.