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California Closes Indoor Dining, Bars For 72 Percent of State

The rollback takes effect immediately and lasts for at least three weeks

The Late Late Show with James Corden
California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered 19 counties across the state to close restaurant dining rooms and all bars immediately.
Photo by CBS via Getty Images

As cases of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) continue to rise across the U.S., some of the hardest-hit regions have paused or rolled back plans to reopen bars, restaurants, and other services for business. On Wednesday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that reopening would be rolled back in 19 of the state’s 58 counties, an order that applies to about 72 percent of California’s total population.

The U.S. was recording 40,000 new cases of COVID-19 per day, Dr. Anthony Fauci told a Senate committee Tuesday, citing a surge of infections and hospitalization rates in California and Texas as factors that could increase that number to “100,000 a day,” he said. The nationwide uptick spurred cities like New York to indefinitely postpone a plan to resume indoor dining (which had been scheduled to resume on July 6). In San Francisco, a plan to allow bars to reopen for outdoor service was also paused, with city health officials saying it would be on hold indefinitely.

Other regions completely rolled back reopenings after cases in their areas spiked: For example, Texas reclosed bars last week, just a few weeks after reopening its public houses for indoor drinking. The same thing happened in Idaho and Florida.

And now, the same is true for a significant part of California. Noting that 110 California residents had died of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours and 5,898 new cases have been reported, Newsom said Wednesday that “the spread of this virus continues at a rate that is particularly concerning,” prompting a decision to immediately close down indoor activities for at least three weeks in the 19 counties the state has identified as seeing the highest rate of infections (a full list of those counties is below).

That means that counties that have allowed indoor dining, such as Los Angeles, must cease that immediately. Outdoor dining is still allowed, Newsom says: “We’re not shutting restaurants down,” but “airflow issues and the prospect of increased transmission” mean “we’re trying to take the activities, as many activities as we can — these mixed activities, these concentrated activities — and move them outdoors, which is a way of mitigating the spread of this virus.” Wineries and tasting rooms in these counties must also close indoor operations, Newsom said.

Bars in those counties “must close all operations” immediately, indoors and out, Newsom says. This is less of a surprise: Newsom had already ordered bars shuttered in the state’s seven highest-hit counties, as the state Department of Public Health said they’d identified bars as a nexus of infection.

Newsom was joined by Mark S. Ghilarducci, the Director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, to confirm that the state would be taking steps to enforce these closures, though Newsom said that “education” would be the first step. “Strike teams” that include agencies like the state Alcoholic Beverage Control and Department of Business Oversight will be on the ground to ensure compliance, Ghilarducci says, by “leveraging their regulatory authorities” to enforce public health orders. Consequences for scofflaws could include citations, fines, and loss of licenses.

Other, longer-standing rules like use of face coverings, social distancing, and worker safety will also be enforced by those agencies, Newsom said. Noting that inspectors can’t be everywhere at once, Newsom specifically called upon diners to report restaurants that might not be in compliance to local public health officials, in an effort to help keep everyone safe.

These are the 19 California counties that must immediately close bars and indoor, sit-down dining.

  • Contra Costa County
  • Fresno County
  • Glenn County
  • Imperial County
  • Kern County
  • Kings County
  • Los Angeles County
  • Merced County
  • Orange County
  • Riverside County
  • Sacramento County
  • San Bernardino County
  • San Joaquin County
  • Santa Barbara County
  • Santa Clara County
  • Solano County
  • Stanislaus County
  • Tulare County
  • Ventura County

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