Orange County’s health department ordered bars to close at midnight as communities in Southern California grapple with rapid increases in the number of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.
In at tweet, the agency said the order for bars that do not offer dine-in meals will go into effect Thursday at 12:01 a.m. and continue until further notice. For those that do offer dine-in and sit-down meals, alcohol can only be sold in the same transaction as a meal, the agency said.
The county order was announced about an hour before Gov. Gavin Newsom declared that indoor operations at businesses, including restaurants and bars, must close in some of the hardest hit parts of the state. LA, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties were included in the order.
The restrictions announced by Newsom come just weeks after California eased its stay-at-home order issued in mid-March and reopened most businesses. The state-mandated closures will apply for a minimum of three weeks and could be extended, depending on key indicators like case counts, hospitalizations and deaths.
Actions to close bars were already taken in surrounding counties of Los Angeles, San Diego and Riverside. Orange County officials expressed concern that if they did not act, the county would become a magnet for holiday revelers from across Southern California.
On Tuesday, Orange County reported another daily record for coronavirus cases, announcing 779 infections and another 10 deaths. The deaths reported Tuesday bring the number to 17 this week and 340 overall. Last week was the deadliest of the pandemic in Orange County, with 56 deaths reported.
The county's total coronavirus case is 13,843.
Of the COVID-19 diagnoses reported Tuesday, 43% are from the past week, officials said.
The number of hospitalized patients in Orange County rose from 485 on Monday to 510, with the number of patients in intensive care increasing from 175 to 176.
The county has performed 233,281 COVID-19 tests, with 7,423 documented recoveries as of Tuesday.
Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday Orange County, along with Solano, Merced and Glenn counties, had been added to the state Department of Public Health's watch list due to increasing percentages of positive tests. If Orange County remained on the list for three consecutive days, then state officials planned to recommend a closure of the county's bars, said Orange County CEO Frank Kim.
If the county remains on the watch list after 14 days, the state would have ordered the bars closed.