Health Officer Closes All Santa Barbara County Bars
Santa Barbara County Health Officer, Dr. Henning Ansorg has issued a health officer order mandating the closure of local bars at the recommendation of the California Department of Public Health. This guidance is effective at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, July 1, 2020. This Order will continue until 5 p.m. on July 26, 2020 or until it is extended, rescinded, superseded, or amended in writing.
The following guidelines must be followed:
- Brewpubs, breweries, bars, and pubs, should close unless they are offering sit-down, dine-in meals. Alcohol may only be sold in the same transaction as a meal.
- Dine-in restaurants, brewpubs, breweries, bars, and pubs that provide sit-down meals should follow the dine-in restaurant guidance and should continue to encourage takeout and delivery service whenever possible.
- Brewpubs, breweries, bars, and pubs that do not provide sit-down meals, but wish to operate under this Order must obtain an Emergency Food Permit.
Wineries and tasting rooms may remain open at this time. Additional guidance and the full health officer order can be found here.
“We have made the decision to close bars to be in compliance with State guidance, especially since our case count continues to rise day by day. This action, particularly in anticipation of the holiday weekend, is a proactive measure to curb the spread of COVID-19 locally,” said Dr. Henning Ansorg. “We have to keep each other safe during this time. Changing our habits by making physical distancing and wearing a face covering part of our daily routines will save lives.”
This health officer 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 these settings.
More information about the COVID-19 response locally, visit www.publichealthsbc.org or call the County Call Center at 1(833) – 688 – 5551.
Governor Recommends Closing Santa Barbara and Ventura County Bars
Governor Gavin Newsom ordered the closure of bars in seven counties and recommended the closure in eight others including Santa Barbara and Ventura.
The order and recommendations were put in place to a rise in COVID-19 cases throughout the state after the majority of business sectors were allowed to reopen.
On Sunday afternoon, Newsom posted an alert on twitter stating, "Due to the rising spread of #COVID19, CA is ordering bars to close in Fresno, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, San Joaquin, and Tulare, while recommending they close in Contra Costa, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Stanislaus, & Ventura."
“COVID-19 is still circulating in California, and in some parts of the state, growing stronger,” wrote Newsom in a statement. “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.”
California Public Health Department (CDPH) Director Dr. Sonia Angell stated they are actively monitoring COVID-19 across the state and are working closely with counties where there are increased rates and concerning patterns of transmission. “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,” she said in a written statement.
The CDPH guidance recommended that counties on the County Monitoring List close bars for three or more consecutive days, but less than 14 days, through local health officer order. Santa Barbara County, who has been on the monitoring list for 13 days, might be mandated to issue a health officer order to close bars given the rising case count locally.
The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department (PHD) is strongly considering options to address these concerns and is continuing to track local metrics while hoping to have further updates regarding the State’s recommendation in the coming days., according to a press release issued Sunday evening.
The actions defined in the guidance include the closure of brewpubs, breweries, bars, and pubs, unless they are offering sit-down, dine-in meals. Wineries and tasting rooms are not included in this recommendation.
According to CDPH, bars are social environments where groups of people mix. 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.
“I implore all community members to adhere to strict physical distancing at all times and avoid gatherings. Until there is a vaccine, the use of face coverings in conjunction with physical distancing is the most effective way to stop the spread of this virus,” said Dr. Henning Ansorg, Health Officer for Santa Barbara County. “The State’s recommendation comes at a critical time. There is still an opportunity to make a difference in the course of this pandemic, but we must all recommit to this effort.”
On Friday, Santa Barbara County Public Health reported 81 new COVID-19 positive cases bringing the grand total to 2,712 with 54 recovering and 20 of those in the intensive care unit. However, health officials stated some percentages of cases are decreasing and hospitals are equipped to handle a potential increase of patients.
This past Friday also marked the local health officer's approval to reopen previously closed personal service businesses including nail salons and tattoo parlors.
CDPH released a new website forecasting a series of metrics for all counties. The CalCat tool forecasts that Santa Barbara County will have a total of 309 COVID-19 related deaths and 154 daily hospitalizations by the end of July. The county is currently recording 28 deaths and 53 daily hospitalizations.
[This article has been updated with information from the Santa Barbara County Health Department]