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Monday, June 29, 2020

Santa Barbara County follows state’s recommendation, closes bars

Posted By on Mon, Jun 29, 2020 at 6:49 PM

A few days after issuing a health order that allowed personal care businesses—such as nail salons and tattoo shops—to reopen, Santa Barbara County issued another order requiring all bars to close.

This order comes a day after the California Department of Public Health directed multiple counties to close bars, while recommending others, including Santa Barbara, follow suit. The county’s order takes effect on July 1 at 8 a.m.

click to enlarge CLOSING AGAIN Santa Barbara County issued a health order requiring most bars and breweries to close starting July 1 due to an increase in COVID-19 cases. - FILE PHOTO
  • CLOSING AGAIN Santa Barbara County issued a health order requiring most bars and breweries to close starting July 1 due to an increase in COVID-19 cases.
During a press conference on June 29, Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state required and recommended that the counties take this action after seeing COVID-19 cases increase throughout the state over the past few weeks.

“The bottom line is we’re doing this because we have seen an increase in the spread of this virus,” Newsom said.

The governor conceded that state officials expected to see case numbers increase as businesses reopen, but the rate at which these cases are increasing in some counties is troubling. This includes Santa Barbara, which has been on a state watch list for two weeks straight as local case numbers continue to increase.

As of June 29, 2,896 people have tested positive for the virus in the county, with 282 of those cases remaining active. The county also announced another death related to the virus, bringing the county’s total to 29.

Newsom said it’s not just the case count that’s troubling. The positivity rate, or the percentage of people who test positive out of everybody who is tested, is also a cause for concern. He said that for weeks the state’s positivity rate remained close to 4.4 percent, but has increased to about 5.9 percent in the last seven days. Santa Barbara County also has twice as many people in the hospital due to the virus as it had at the beginning of June.

According to a press release the county issued on June 28, the state is targeting bars because they are social environments where many different people mix. Alcohol consumption could impair judgement and reduce peoples’ compliance with recommended safety measures, the press release states.

“This order is closing bars due to the findings that physical movement of people within bars, the duration of time spent in the establishment, and the degree of social mixing within individuals and groups are all greater in bars than other hospitality sectors,” the order states. “There is a growing body of evidence tracing large COVID-19 outbreaks in both urban and rural states, to bars.”

The order states that bars, breweries, and brewpubs can only remain open if they offer sit-down meals in accordance with state and local guidance. The order exempts wineries and tasting rooms, which are allowed to remain open. ∆

—Zac Ezzone
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