California: Newsom Orders Bars to Shutter

Pandemic: Governor issues a directive that applies to Los Angeles, 6 other counties, not Orange California

From staff reports

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sunday ordered bars and nightclubs closed in Los Angeles and six other counties while recommending closures in eight others, including Riverside and San Bernardino, as the state’s coronavirus caseload continued to grow.

The message, posted by the governor around noon on Twitter, said that “due to the rising spread of #COVID19, CA is ordering bars to close in Fresno, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, San Joaquin and Tulare.”

The order, the first major rollback of efforts to reopen California’s economy, was effective immediately, a spokesman for the California Health and Human Services Agency confirmed.

The state also is recommending bar closures for Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Contra Costa, Stanislaus and Ventura. For those counties, a health officer order would be needed to make closing bars there mandatory — though bars in Contra Costa and Santa Clara already were closed.

Los Angeles County public health officials said Sunday the health officer order would be amended to “require that all bars, breweries, brew pubs, pubs, wineries and tasting rooms close unless they are offering sit-down dine-in meals,” the department said in a statement. “This includes closing bar areas in restaurants.”

TOP AND ABOVE: After being closed for months, bars such as The Stache in Long Beach reopened in early June. Now they will have to shut down again, as Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sunday ordered bars and nightclubs in Los Angeles and six other counties closed because of a surge in coronavirus cases.  STAFF FILE PHOTOS

Bars that offer sit-down dine-in meals that are cooked and prepared on the premises and have the appropriate permit from the Department of Public Health are allowed to remain open, a spokesman said.

The order comes as Los Angeles County reported another 20 deaths on Sunday, along with 2,542 new cases. A total of 3,305 people in the county have died from complications related to the novel coronavirus.

“While it’s disappointing to take a step back on our economic recovery journey, it’s critical that we protect the health of our residents and protect the capacity in our health care system,” Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said. “I implore that our residents and businesses follow the public health directives that will keep us healthy, safe and on the pathway to recovery. Otherwise, we are quickly moving toward overwhelming our health care system and seeing even more devastating illness and death.”

Ferrer urged residents on Saturday to take caution as an increase in cases is leading to a spike in hospitalizations, up to 1,717 from 1,350 just a few weeks ago. The county reported days with more than 2,000 cases last week following the reopening of restaurants and other establishments, in addition to widespread protests throughout the region.

The average daily cases in Los Angeles County never really went down — now at more than 1,900 from 1,379 two weeks ago — as officials moved to reopen parts of the economy. Last week, Newsom warned the state could again close some businesses in counties experiencing surges.

On Sunday, he made good on the threat. For L.A. County bars, it meant closing just nine days after reopening on July 19.

The governor’s order Sunday did not affect gastropubs or large breweries that serve food. Some were still bustling Sunday.

“Until we hear differently, it’s the same news for us, ” said Luke Aton, a bartender at Barney’s Beanery in West Hollywood.

The restaurant, a fixture in the L.A. area with locations in Pasadena, Santa Monica, Burbank and elsewhere, reopened about three weeks ago.

On Sunday, a patron broke the news of the bar closures to Barney’s Beanery employees.

“A regular was on her phone at the bar and told us,” Aton said.

Despite reopening, business has been slow. Aton said the restaurant is only serving at 60% capacity. They’ll soon install Plexiglas barriers between tables to allow more diners in.

The seven counties mandated to close their bars have been on the state’s coronavirus watch list for more than two weeks. The other counties, including Contra Costa and Santa Clara, have been on the watch list for at least three days.

An analysis by the Southern California News Group, which publishes this newspaper, showed that people ages 18 to 40 accounted for most of the increase in new cases, up 41% from two weeks ago to 34,360 cases, representing 40% of the total as of Thursday. Young people under 18 represented the fastest growing number of confirmed positive cases, a 60% increase over two weeks, up to 5,954 cases, amounting to roughly 7% of the county total.

In Riverside County, spokeswoman Brooke Federico said more information will be shared as soon as it is available.

“We are working closely with the state to determine next steps regarding bar closures, including any potential impacts to restaurants that also have bars,” she said in an email.

The county has seen increased coronavirus cases, which have resulted in increased hospitalizations, she said. On Friday, a record 318 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, including 105 in intensive care units, according to the Riverside County public health dashboard. Total confirmed coronavirus cases rose by 501 to 15,643 that day. Riverside County doesn’t release numbers on weekends.

San Bernardino County spokesman David Wert said late Sunday afternoon that as far as he knew, the county had not received word from the state.

“The county will make an announcement if it takes action,” he said in an email.

In San Bernardino County, cases were up by 127 Sunday to 11,501.

The latest hospitalization numbers in that county, from June 23, show 311 patients confirmed positive and 130 suspected. At that point 30 surge capacity beds were being used in the county, out of a total of 1,137.

“All community members are urged to wear a face covering, keep six feet of distance from others and wash their hands frequently as these steps are known to slow and prevent the spread of the disease,” Federico wrote. “All businesses that have reopened in Riverside County should follow the state and local reopening guidance available online at RivCoBizHelp. org.”

Newsom and the state’s public health director said they were acting on science in choosing to single out bars at this time, saying they are social environments where groups of people mix and alcohol consumption reduces inhibitions and impairs judgment when it comes to such things as the mandatory use of face masks, according to a press release from the California Department of Public Health.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Sunday he supported the governor’s actions.

“As we started reopening more businesses, we cautioned that we may need to change course to protect public health from this deadly virus,” Garcetti wrote on Twitter. “I support @CAGovernor’s order to close bars in L.A. County and other counties to limit the spread of COVID-19.”

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia also approved.

“From the start of our reopening process we’ve said that we would be led by the facts and the data,” Garcia said by Twitter. “I support Governor @Gavin-Newsom’s decision to close bars in several counties in California, including here in LA County and Long Beach. We must continue to prioritize public health.”

Sunset Beer Co., located on Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park, operates a bar and lounge area, but also a retail side selling specialty beers. It has been able to keep the retail side open throughout the pandemic, though with precautions.

“We just recently had started letting people come in the shop one at a time,” said employee Kyle Smith.

The shop had a robust online ordering system in place for taking deliveries and pickup orders. Its bar and small outdoor seating area remain closed, however. The owners were considering potentially slowly reopening soon with Garcetti’s order, but the governor’s new order shut down that conversation quickly.

“Closing the bar hurt us, because the margins are so much better,” Smith said. “But the bottle shop is doing fine.”

The Virgil, a bar and live-music venue on Sunset, remains closed.

The bar’s voicemail message stated that the location would be shut indefinitely because of the pandemic.

“We’ll resume our amazing entertainment and music when it’s safe to do so,” the message says. This story was compiled by Southern California News Group staff writers David Rosenfeld, Josh Cain and Jennifer Iyer and Bay Area News Group staff writer Jessica Yadegaran.

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  • To Country: United States
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  • Posted On: 6/29/2020 9:48:11 AM
  • Expiration On: 7/29/2020 9:48:11 AM
  • Last Modified On: 6/29/2020 9:48:11 AM
  • Category: National News

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