On Sunday afternoon, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that bars in seven California counties would be closing because of the spike in cases of the novel coronavirus in the state, CBS Los Angeles reported. Bars in Los Angeles, Fresno, Kerns, Kings, Tulare, San Joaquin, and Imperial Counties will be forced to close immediately. Gov. Newsom also recommended that bars in Santa Barbara, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura, San Bernardino, Santa Clara, Stanislaus, and Contra Costa Counties close as well.
In his statement about the mandatory closures, Gov. Newsom emphasized the importance of taking decisive action to prevent the further spread of coronavirus in the state.
"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."The director of the California Department of Public Health, Dr. Sonia Angell, told CBS Los Angeles that the California government is letting the data guide their decisions about responding to the coronavirus outbreaks in the state.
"We are actively monitoring COVID-19 across the state and working closely with counties where there are increased rates and concerning patterns of transmission," she said. "Closing bars in these counties is one of a number of targeted actions counties are implementing across our state to slow the virus' spread and reduce risk."
According to The San Francisco Chronicle, Gov. Newsom's order to close bars only applies to establishments that do not serve food. Dine-in restaurants can continue to operate as usual, with the exception that drinks can only be served with meals. The order also specified that businesses that are authorized to sell takeout alcoholic beverages can continue to do so via curbside pickup.
Bars have been identified by many public health officials as places where the novel coronavirus can be easily spread, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. Because coronavirus is more easily spread inside and bars are often packed with people, the transmission of the virus is more likely.
Some public health officials have also pointed out that because bars are loud, people often have to get closer to talk and speak louder, which leads to an increase in the spread of the droplets that transmit the virus. Additionally, they've noted that the consumption of alcohol makes it less likely that people will be diligent about following social distancing recommendations.
Per The San Francisco Chronicle, the counties impacted by the order are currently assessing how to comply. California only recently started to reopen after shutting down in mid-March.