The California Department of Public Health and California Governor Gavin Newsom released last weekend guidance on the closure of bars for counties on the County Monitoring List.
The Department recommends that counties on the County Monitoring List for three or more consecutive days, but less than 14 days, close bars through local health officer order. Counties that have been on the list for 14 days or more are required to immediately close bars.
The order affects the counties of Fresno, Imperial, Kern, Kings, San Joaquin, Tulare, and Los Angeles. State officials have asked at least eight other counties to issue local health orders closing bars.
“Californians must remain vigilant against this virus,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “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. Each of us has the power to limit the spread of this virus. Wear a face covering and keep physically distant outside the home. Don’t gather in groups, and if you are older or have a condition that puts you at higher risk of COVID-19, protect yourself by staying home.”
“California is using data and science to guide our response to COVID-19. We are actively monitoring COVID-19 across the state and working closely with counties where there are increased rates and concerning patterns of transmission. 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,” said Dr. Sonia Angell, State Public Health Officer and Director of the California Department of Public Health. “We all have our part in the fight against community spread of COVID 19. If you go out then remember, wear a face covering, keep your distance and wash your hands frequently.”
Community spread of COVID-19 continues to be a concern across the state, and in particular for counties on the County Monitoring List. Community spread increases the likelihood of expanded transmission of COVID-19 in settings such as nursing homes, homeless shelters, jails, and prisons. Counties will continue to take action to limit the transmission of COVID-19, including reinstituting community measures such as the closure of bars.
Bars are social environments where groups of people mix. 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. Public health professionals within California and throughout the nation have identified bars as the highest risk sector of non-essential businesses currently open. Beyond the higher risk of transmission in bar settings, contract tracing, a key measure needed to control spread, is also more challenging in bars because of the constant mixing among patrons and a lack of record-keeping of those in attendance.