Effective immediately, all bars are ordered closed in Orange County due to the increasing number COVID-19 cases, initially by order from Acting County Health Officer and OC Health Care Agency (HCA) Director Dr. Clayton Chau, and then, later, by order of Governor Newsom. Newsom’s order also includes the closures of indoor restaurant operations, along with indoor operations of wineries and tasting rooms, movie theaters, family entertainment centers, zoos and museums, and cardrooms. The order “applies for a minimum of three weeks and is subject to an extension based on epidemiologic indicators,” according to the State.
Restaurants may still prepare food for takeout and serve customers in approved outdoor dining areas. Fullerton City Manager Ken Domer indicated that his office is working with city restaurants to set up additional outdoor dining areas in anticipation of accommodating additional outdoor seating.
Just hours after its initial press release ordering the bar closures, the County followed up with one that aligned to the new State orders issued later that same day, following a noontime press conference by Gov. Newsom. The county of Orange does not seem to have had advance notice of the Governor’s new orders, which affected eighteen counties across the State, including Orange County. The city of Fullerton actually issued a press release referring to the closure of not only the bars, but the indoor operations of restaurants and other businesses before the county of Orange, who seemed to be playing catch-up with the Governor. A County spokesperson did not think health officials had received prior warning from the Governor.
“The health and safety of Orange County’s residents is paramount,” said Vice Chairman Andrew Do, First District, referring only to the bar closure. “We must continue to fight the spread of COVID-19. I encourage all residents and business owners to be extra cautious this holiday weekend.”
Bars in neighboring Los Angeles County had already been ordered closed on June 28. Chau’s bar closure order was meant to help align counties in Southern California with one another due to the increases in COVID-19 cases across the region, according to the initial County press release, suggesting that O.C. health officials may have had concerns about patrons from Los Angeles County traveling to Orange County to find open bars.
Bars had been allowed to operate in Orange County since June 12 as the County of Orange received approval from the State to open more business sectors under an accelerated Stage Two. The county of Orange received this approval from the State on May 23, but critical numbers measuring the positivity rate of persons tested and cases per 100,000 residents have risen sharply in recent days to beyond threshold percentages established by the State. The increased infections resulted in Orange County being added to the State’s County Monitoring List, along with 18 other counties including Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles, but not San Diego.
“If we are to successfully fight this COVID-19 pandemic, we must be vigilant in maintaining social distancing, washing our hands and wearing our face coverings,” said Supervisor Doug Chaffee, referring only to the bar closures. Chaffee’s Fourth Supervisor District includes not only Fullerton, but Anaheim, where 2 ZIP code areas are among 3 that have significantly higher infection numbers than elsewhere in the County.
Fifth District Supervisor Lisa Bartlett added, “As we experience a rise in positive cases and hospitalizations, it is important that we take swift and prudent action so that we do not overload our healthcare system or jeopardize the progress we have made in reopening our economy.”
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