Due to an order by Governor Gavin Newsom, California will close bars in seven of its counties (including Los Angeles County) in addition to recommending that eight others shut down the same operations. The order will go into effect on Sunday, and will be an effort to combat the rising spread of COVID-19, according to NBC News.
For those wondering which other areas this order applies to, we'll just embed the Governor's own tweet from Sunday afternoon:
"Californians must remain vigilant against this virus," Newsom later added in a statement. "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."
On June 5, California made public established guidelines that would allow its bars to open up by June 12. Those openings were contingent upon permission from local public health officials. The counties which will see forced closures had been on California's Monitoring List for 2+ weeks. As for those being advised to close down, they've been on that same Monitoring List for somewhere between 3-to-14 consecutive days.
"We are actively monitoring COVID-19 across the state and working closely with counties where there are increased rates and concerning patterns of transmission," the state's public health director said. "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."
Guidance from the California Department of Public Health states that the businesses that shall remain closed are "brewpubs, breweries, bars, and pubs," but there is a workaround in which an eatery can serve alcohol if it's in tandem with a meal at an establishment that offers "sit-down [or] dine-in meals."
If you're wondering what the rationale behind this decision is, the state argues that places where alcohol is served leads to lowered inhibitions that then lead to people to disregard social distancing mandates.
"[B]ars are social environments where groups of people mix," the state said in a statement. "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."
It further buttresses its decree by outlining that health experts have pointed to bars as the "highest risk sector of non-essential business currently open." In addition to drunk people making bad decisions, and loud people spreading droplets at a higher rate, it also maintains that contact tracing becomes a mess because bar patrons mix with so many other people and nobody's keeping attendance records.
According to local officials, Los Angeles county has seen "significant increases" in coronavirus cases, as well as hospitalizations and test positivity rates. On Saturday, the county reported 2,169 new cases, and 23 deaths. As compared to two weeks ago, the county is seeing the average daily amount of confirmed cases increase by more than 520 (to over 1,900).
Overall, the county's total stands at 95,371 cases and 3,285 deaths. That means it currently holds the spot as the U.S. county with the most confirmed cases.
Health officials state that younger residents are getting hit at a particularly high rate this time around, which they theorize has been caused by the reopening of social establishments, as well as recent protests.