Health Officer Closes All Santa Barbara County Bars

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Health Officer Closes All Santa Barbara County Bars
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An outdoor table at O'Malleys on State Street in Santa Barbara (Photo by Donald Teel on Unsplash)

Update by Santa Barbara County Public Health Department
June 29, 2020

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 This Order will continue until 5 p.m. on July 26, 2020 or until it is extended, rescinded, superseded, or amended in writing.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 or call the County Call Center at 1(833) – 688 – 5551.

Governor Recommends Closing Santa Barbara and Ventura County Bars

By edhat staff
June 28, 2020

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]

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sacjon Jun 30, 2020 12:34 PM
Health Officer Closes All Santa Barbara County Bars

Yesterday, I was "discussing" with another poster his desire to hold BLM liable for negligence due to the recent protests. I wonder what he and all the others supporting the idea think about SB allowing the beaches to remain open, while LA and OC are closed, and actively advertising that SB is open to tourists?

PitMix Jun 30, 2020 02:19 PM
Health Officer Closes All Santa Barbara County Bars

Our brains evolved to fight immediate threats in our environment with flight or fight decisions. I think you are looking at the limit on the amount of time that we can experience an emergency and respond to it. 3 months. The people most at risk, and more mature, can probably still isolate and socially distance. But the rest of us are not going to do anything we don't want to, and our government is not a dictatorship that is willing to enforce compliance. I feel sorry for the people working at hospitals that will suffer due to our behavior.

ESL_teacher Jun 30, 2020 09:59 AM
Health Officer Closes All Santa Barbara County Bars

Choice of words matters. I take exception to the wording of this announcement. Dr. Ansorg should have said, "must close", not "should close". Should means "ought to" and leaves the matter open. In our current circumstances, the emphatic verb "must" is essential, otherwise there is room for argument and resistance.

Lucky 777 Jun 30, 2020 09:30 AM
Health Officer Closes All Santa Barbara County Bars

"...close bars for three or more consecutive days, but less than 14 days..." BUT doesn't the pronouncement from on high sound more like closed until further notice?

aragorn Jun 30, 2020 09:20 AM
Health Officer Closes All Santa Barbara County Bars

Simple. Buy your favorite beer, wine, and liquor at the store. Make your own favorite appetizers, and meals at home and drink your beer, wine, and make your own favorite well drinks. Much cheaper to do it at home and do not have to worry about getting pulled over for DUI's. I am going to learn how to make my own favorite well drinks on YouTube and kick back and relax at home with my favorite well drinks.

a-1593526201 Jun 30, 2020 07:10 AM
Health Officer Closes All Santa Barbara County Bars

I don't know... people are quick to point to protests as the timing for increase in exposure. BUT, Memeorial Day weekend - and the wholesale opening of Santa Barbara to paying tourists - happened around the same time. It almost feels like some people are trying to say we shouldn't stand up and be counted, but we should bow down to money. Just my opinion. And, agreed - SB City and County should probably close the beaches this weekend. Because people won't exercise their own common sense.

sacjon Jun 30, 2020 11:20 AM
Health Officer Closes All Santa Barbara County Bars

ZERO - they NEED to close the beaches to non-locals or at least make them walking/swimming only. No reason allow our beaches to be invaded and overrun by out of towners and then cancel our fireworks. If we're keeping the beaches open, we might as well go all out and say eff the virus. Please, still go and do your thing, as all us locals should be able to do, but when you open up to LA and OC, those miles of open beaches get very cramped very soon. KEEP OUT LA!

ZeroHawk Jun 30, 2020 10:31 AM
Health Officer Closes All Santa Barbara County Bars

they won't close our beaches and even if they did, most of us are still going. i live two blocks from the beach and use it like my back yard. i also go there to get away from people. we have miles and miles of large open beaches with plenty of room to be there and not within even 20 feet of another person.

SBCountyLocal Jun 30, 2020 12:16 AM
Health Officer Closes All Santa Barbara County Bars

Bars WON'T close. They now sell food and are exempt. The order to close bars is a act. Newsom wants to look like he has done something. He has. We are now sitting ducks in a city that won't enforce executive orders or proclamations. Let the virus rage...

sacjon Jun 30, 2020 12:10 PM
Health Officer Closes All Santa Barbara County Bars

KANE KENA - exactly. I understand the bar owners' need to make a living, however, right now, we need to stop this thing from spreading like wildfire again. Bars and restaurants are some of the worst places to be right now, regardless of whether you can buy a slim jim with your booze. Allowing them to stay open because they sell food has NOTHING to do with safety, but rather as a means to avoid "punishing" bars as non-essential. If you "serve" food, you are automatically "essential." THAT is the problem. Now, because you can "order food" with your shots, you can still pack a bar full of irresponsible, rowdy drunk people. Why even bother with these restrictions??

kane kena Jun 30, 2020 11:56 AM
Health Officer Closes All Santa Barbara County Bars

I'll have one bourbon, one scotch and one beer. All that and a bag of chips. There: food. Winning!
Being sarcastic, of course. but that's about the extent of this food loophole. Either do something effective or ...nothing, just do something effective and make it effective.

sacjon Jun 30, 2020 11:12 AM
Health Officer Closes All Santa Barbara County Bars

ZERO - I think SBCOLOC meant the bars won't actually have to close because they all "adapted" to the loophole allowing them to be open if they sell food. So, we have an order to help us slow our virus problem, since these grown adults can't do it themselves, but it won't do anything because businesses are using loopholes to stay open. It's a waste of time and prolonging of our problem. They need to shut down COMPLETELY all bars and restaurants again. These have been the hotpoints for the virus. Indoor, no air circulation, close proximity = bad news. We're going to be starting all over again, mark my words.

ZeroHawk Jun 30, 2020 10:32 AM
Health Officer Closes All Santa Barbara County Bars

SBLOC, dude...they closed the pubs, breweries and bars. they are closed until further notice. restaurants may be next, as i seem to notice about a 2 ft distance at them and no masks. it's like they just forget things when dining out.

420722 Jun 30, 2020 09:23 AM
Health Officer Closes All Santa Barbara County Bars

Fernaldpoint-No, and that’s the silver lining, hardly anyone will have to close since most of the breweries, pubs and bars already serve food or started serving food so they could open along with restaurants.

SBLetsGetAlong Jun 29, 2020 10:49 PM
Health Officer Closes All Santa Barbara County Bars

I found this interesting in the UCSB COVID testing article on EdHat this eve,
“ Direct close contact is defined by SBCPHD as being within 6 feet of the individual while not wearing a mask for a time period of 10 minutes or longer.”
So passing by someone in a grocery store or hardware store is not a concern to the SBCPHD?
What about the checker or bagger at the store? How about the waiter/waitresses, etc.,..?

Data, numbers;
Are our hospitals in South County or North County overwhelmed?
Are the patients being treating from the area or were they moved here?
Hospitalizations have not kept pace with the number of new cases.
Good news, right?
Has the death toll gotten “out of hand”?
I understand hospitalization and deaths will lag new cases, but to date the death rate of those infected in SB has been less than 1% including the prison, Lompoc and Santa Maria where most of the cases have been.
To date less than 1% of SB County has tested positive.
I’d say SB has done a great job so far. I’m also saying, toe the line, be responsible.
And remember the experts are still figuring all of this out, like the above statement regarding 10 minutes of exposure. I hadn’t heard that one before. And the WHO says 1 meter, 3.2 feet, for social distancing. Masks were just mandated a couple weeks ago after COVID being around for five months here and 7-8 months overseas. And this is a virus and spreads similar to other viruses, yet they're still guessing.
Please remember, there are other battles going on, like paying rent and putting food on the table. Depression, social anxieties, stress, fear, etc..
So stay home if you are concerned, don’t patronize businesses that do not sanitize between every customer, wear a medical grade mask, practice good hygiene, sterilize before you take your mask off and sterilize everything before it enters your car and home.
And remember we will get through this as we have for centuries.

SB Barbarian Jun 29, 2020 09:37 PM
Health Officer Closes All Santa Barbara County Bars

Why July 1st and not immediately? County health officials announced that they were expanding the businesses that could re-open to include massage parlors, nail salons, and a list of other personal service enterprises that includes among other things genital piercing. Why not keep them all closed until it is safe? None of these businesses are essential, except to the owners, for whom I feel very bad. COVID-19 is not their fault, but it does spread indiscriminately inside buildings where social distancing is not possible, like bars and restaurants and other similar places. The last three times that I have had to go out for groceries or a medical procedure, I have been counting mask wearers and non-mask waters, now that the Gov mandated wearing them in public. I counted 40 people wearing masks out of 141 who were not in vehicles or business establishments - just walking on the sidewalk or running. That's 28/%. I don't think people are taking this seriously enough. And, as much as I am jonesing for a good genital piercing, it can wait.


a-1593484017 Jun 29, 2020 07:26 PM
Health Officer Closes All Santa Barbara County Bars

What doesn't make any sense to me is the hysteria... "WE'RE CLOSING THE BARS!... in two days. " The same thing happened with other businesses shutting down, and the mandate on mask wearing. "It's out of control. We must do something!.... in two days." I'm not questioning spread, but if it's truly dire - why wait two days?

wcfw Jun 29, 2020 09:00 PM
Health Officer Closes All Santa Barbara County Bars

It is rather interesting. If we are truly "making data-driven decisions," why not let us see what the contact tracing data says. My guess is we have spent hundreds of thousands of tax payer dollars on contact tracing to date. What does the data tell us? Of the almost 2K community spread cases, what does the contact tracing data say? My guess is fairly specific information can be given without violating HIPAA. If the data shows it's the bars, great, shut them down. Otherwise, I think we're barking up the wrong tree. The data we do see shows almost half the cases are in North County. Why aren't we locking it down?

a-1593481925 Jun 29, 2020 06:52 PM
Health Officer Closes All Santa Barbara County Bars

96 new cases of COVID-19 and one additional death were reported in Santa Barbara County Monday. 34 new cases were counted on Saturday, 54 new cases on Sunday and 96 new cases on Monday.

ZeroHawk Jun 30, 2020 10:37 AM
Health Officer Closes All Santa Barbara County Bars

because about 1/5 of the city of SB is actually beach...

Joe Rogan and his troupe from LA came up a few weekends ago. They were hammered drunk in the funk zone, walking around town smoking cigars, etc. Then he gets on his podcast and blasts it to 30000000 followers, GO TO SB, THEY DON'T GIVE A F**K. NOT KIDDING....just wow. Frankly, it would be better to put a check point on the 101 and only allow thru traffic or residents to pass. no one from OC or LA going to the beach...

LCP112233 Jun 29, 2020 04:28 PM
Health Officer Closes All Santa Barbara County Bars

From what I have been noticing, theses young people could care less about the disease or getting it. They are out playing at bars and such hanging on each other. Not wearing masks, and not practicing necessary distancing guidelines. Sadly, it doesn't looks like we will be out of the woods for a very very long time.

a-1593509683 Jun 30, 2020 02:34 AM
Health Officer Closes All Santa Barbara County Bars

"The correct phrase is "couldn't care less," but dictionaries and language experts say the Americanism "could care less" is gaining ground and even acceptable in some situations." Jan 16, 2020 (Grammar Girl)

bigman Jun 29, 2020 04:17 PM
Health Officer Closes All Santa Barbara County Bars

Why are those in charge of contact tracing telling the tracers not to ask if someone attended a protest? That is not right. I personally feel they either are concerned about liability from allowing the protests or are shielding organizers from liability. We should have recourse if we are infected or if a family member dies from contracting it from someone acting negligently/recklessly - at least have thea bility to go to court and get a ruling. Not right. Contact tracers must ask if someone was at a protest too.

bigman Jun 29, 2020 09:40 PM
Health Officer Closes All Santa Barbara County Bars

SACJON wrong group who is owed a duty of care. It's all of us - as a whole. Same theory as attractive nuisance, public nuisance and the like. And yes I have a law degree and am a litigator. We'll see what happens in the courts because not sure if you know but even employers now face potential liability if someone gets sick at work - depending on the standard of care they applied. Same will likely happen with business owners and anyone who organizes protests that put the greater public at large in danger. These are uncharted waters and I suspect many cases will come down out of this.

sacjon Jun 29, 2020 07:30 PM
Health Officer Closes All Santa Barbara County Bars

6:45 - NONE of them can cite any sources. BIGMAN et al just click the down arrow instead of actually responding to direct questions and requests for evidence. It's sad really.

Bene Jun 29, 2020 07:18 PM
Health Officer Closes All Santa Barbara County Bars

In order to stop the spread, large events and gatherings of ANY KIND were at first forbidden. This was considered one of the main ways to stop the spread. Why did this thinking change? For political reasons? My friends and relatives who are performing artists are going bankrupt. All their concerts have been canceled. THEY are still not allowed to have a large gathering, unlike some other favored groups. I don't care if it's a Trumpian mask protest or a BLM protest--this is just one heck of a terrible time for any protest. Any big gathering is so not a good idea. There is no control over people's behavior at such big events . If event organizers of ANY kind think they are off the hook because they mention people should wear masks, they are not. It is widely known that unless you take an N95 away from a health care worker, so to speak, the kind of masks available to people offer only a small percent of protection even if everyone wears one--and wears it correctly. Available masks absolutely do not provide full protection --especially if people are in big groups yelling and bunched up close to each other.

sacjon Jun 29, 2020 05:20 PM
Health Officer Closes All Santa Barbara County Bars

BIGMAN - do you have a law degree? I've studied negligence plenty and it is not simple "recklessness." The first question is - did BLM have a duty of care towards protesters? Not all of them, for sure. Many of these protests were not "organized" by BLM, they were local, regional and in the cases of the first protests, were entirely spontaneous. They were organized by local community leaders, etc in the name of BLM as a theme, not an event organizer. BLM likely had no duty to these people from a legal standpoint (except to those directly organized by BLM), as they were not affiliated in that sense. Therefore there was no "breach" of any duty, which would then put us into a causation analysis which I'm not going into now. Furthermore, for those protests legitimately "organized" by BLM, in order for there to be some breach of the duty of care towards the protesters, BLM would have had to encourage violation of, or in the very least ignore, the mask and social distance orders. Every protest page/flyer, etc I saw, it was clear that people were expected to act "safely" and wear mask. To wrap it up here, it will definitely NOT be as simple as you think to find any negligence and liability in BLM. On the other hand, there have been MANY recent events where the organizers and the President of the US have encouraged open defiance of the mask and distance orders...... that's another story though...

a-1593475749 Jun 29, 2020 05:09 PM
Health Officer Closes All Santa Barbara County Bars

SACJON absolutely. I don't care if it's a negligent business, if it's my employer being negligent, a rally or a protest. I'm sorry but, look at what is happening. PPL are coming out of this virus with permanent damage. As long as ppl are doing things right - and protests AND rallies are NOT - then that's fine but at some point those being reckless and negligent must be held accountable. Perhaps fear of that will get people to sit up and pay attention and act responsibly. BLM doesn't have to tell people to not wear masks to be negligent. You should research what negligence is. Recklessness. It's obvious not everyone would wear masks plus there was little distancing. Totally foreseeable.

sacjon Jun 29, 2020 04:57 PM
Health Officer Closes All Santa Barbara County Bars

BIGMAN - would you have the same passion for "recourse" if you or your family member got it from a campaign rally in Tulsa? Did BLM ever encourage people to not wear masks? Did BLM ever call this pandemic a hoax? Think really hard before wishing for legal action against event organizers.


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