Governor Gavin Newsom ordered the closure of bars in seven California counties on Sunday and recommended closings in eight counties, including the Bay Area, as the state’s coronavirus case load continued to grow.
The new order will not have an immediate impact in Contra Costa and Santa Clara counties, which are on the recommended list, because the bars in those counties are still closed and were not scheduled to reopen until July 1.
But the move sends a message, and it’s the latest in a series of increasing steps Newsom has taken as case numbers increase. After the statewide June 18 mask order, the governor advised leaders Friday to reinstate a stay-at-home order in Imperial County, where the high positivity rate was putting pressure on hospitals.
Bars were ordered closed in Fresno, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, San Joaquin and Tulare counties because they have been on the COVID-19 watch list for two weeks. Counties on the recommended list, including Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, Stanislaus, and Ventura, have been on the watch list for at least three days.
Because closings here are recommended and not required by the state, it is up to local health departments to decide next steps, a Newsom spokesperson said by email.
“The actions being taken are essential to our mission to quickly contain this virus and improve public health,” said the email. “We can only stop the spread if everyone in California does their part.”
With this new recommendation just three days before bars reopened in Contra Costa and Santa Clara counties, it remains to be seen how bar owners and county officials will respond. Messages left to bar owners in both counties were not immediately returned.
But on Friday, Contra Costa was one of three Bay Area counties to reconsider its reopening plans. In a statement, Contra Costa County health officials revealed that the number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals had increased by 42 percent. Data released by the county shows that coronavirus cases are growing particularly among people under the age of 40, who accounted for 38 percent of cases in April and now account for 55 percent of cases.
“It is a sign that younger people are playing an important role in driving the increase in new cases and potentially infecting vulnerable people,” the statement said.
Newsom did not mention whether the other businesses that were slated to reopen on July 1, including indoor restaurants and beauty salons, will be affected. But for now, bars in Contra Costa and Santa Clara County should remain closed, despite their eagerness to reopen.
You can hear that excitement in the outgoing phone message from the Lafayette Round Up Saloon.
“Our projected opening is July 1,” says the recording. “We will return stronger than ever with outside seats and new safety and sanitation protocols. I can not wait to see you.
Check back for updates.