SACRAMENT – Governor Gavin Newsom on Sunday ordered bars closed in seven California counties – including Los Angeles – as the state faces a wave of coronavirus infections and an increase in hospitalizations after most sectors reopen over the past month.
The move came two days after Republican governors in Texas and Florida closed their doors after seeing coronavirus levels spread in their states.
California’s daily average of new cases has skyrocketed in the past week, as Newsom acknowledged not only because of the expanded availability of tests. The state’s positivity rate has exceeded 5 percent, while the number of people who have requested hospitalization has increased by 29 percent in the past week.
Sunday’s move marks the first time the Democratic governor closed a sector he previously authorized to open during the pandemic. The seven counties that must close bars or keep them closed are Fresno, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, San Joaquin and Tulare, all of which have been on the state’s checklist for at least two weeks. All but Los Angeles are located in Central Valley, which has seen rapidly increasing infections and hospitalizations.
“Californians must remain vigilant against this virus,” Newsom said in a statement. “COVID-19 is still circulating in California and parts of the state, becoming stronger. This is why it is essential to take this step to limit the spread of the virus in the counties that are experiencing the greatest increases. “
Newsom recommended that eight other counties close the bars, although they did not order them to do so. These counties have been on the checklist for at least three days and include Riverside, Sacramento and San Bernardino. Two Bay Area counties on the advisory list, Contra Costa and Santa Clara, never allowed bars to open.
California is maintaining a counties checklist whose data indicated potential problems with the spread of coronavirus. The list now includes 15 counties, where more than half of the state’s residents collectively live. Counties enter the list if they have case rate hikes, positive test results, or hospitalizations. Having less than 20 percent of ICU beds or 25 percent of fans available are other factors.
The governor and state health officials authorized the opening of the bars in California on June 12, but gave county health officials the authority to keep them closed for as long as they deemed fit. Most of California’s 58 counties subsequently allowed the bars to reopen, including Los Angeles, the largest in the state with 10 million people, which gave the go-ahead to these establishments on June 19.
Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti said on Twitter on Sunday which supports Newsom by ordering the closure of bars in different counties, including yours. “When we started reopening multiple companies, we warned that we may need to change course to protect public health from this deadly virus,” he said.
The state issued guidelines that asked bars to maintain social distance between customers, eliminate seats in the current bar counter and lower the volume of music to avoid screaming, which expels droplets at greater distances. Newsom has also requested face coatings in most public settings.
But photos from bars and nightlife districts they showed people who gather together without masks and wait in line without distancing themselves. Several Sacramento bars closed on their own after learning that they had a Covid-19 case in the past few days.