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By Shawn Raymundo
Ahead of the long holiday weekend, Orange County’s bars, breweries and pubs have been ordered to close starting tomorrow as the county has seen a spike in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, the county’s health office announced Wednesday morning, July 1.
The order from the county’s top health official comes a day after OC Board Supervisor and Chairperson Michelle Steel delivered a stark warning that bars countywide could be closing due to the latest outbreak, which has brought a record number of cases in Orange County.
On Tuesday, June 30, the county reported its largest single-day hike to date as 779 new positive cases of COVID-19 were added to the county’s cumulative total, marking the fifth time in a two-week period that the county has broken its previous record of cases.
According to the announcement from the Orange County Health Care Agency, all bars, pubs, breweries, and brewpubs—establishments that don’t offer sit-down, dine-in meals—in Orange County were ordered to close effective Thursday, July 2. The countywide order will remain in effect until further notice.
There are some exemptions to the new order, as bars and breweries that work with food service vendors can continue to operate so long as the vendor adheres to the state’s guidance and the “establishment sells alcohol only in the same transaction as a meal.”
Over the past week, three South County cities of San Clemente, Dana Point and San Juan Capistrano had also seen significant increases in cases.
On Tuesday, San Clemente surpassed a new milestone with 104 total cases—19 more than the week prior—with Dana Point adding 13 cases over the one-week period (from 41 to 54) and San Juan Capistrano’s case count increasing from 77 to 85.
Though acknowledging the recent rise in cases, Steel said those new cases represented testing and the collection of specimens from more than two weeks ago.
“The County has continued to closely monitor cases on a daily basis,” Steel said in her release. “While the report today—and the recent increased rate of infections—is concerning, the County and our local health system continue to be prepared to respond to protect the health and safety of our residents.”
The county’s new order to close bars follows a recent announcement from Gov. Gavin Newsom who on, Sunday, June 28, ordered all bars in seven other counties (including Los Angeles) to close.
The criteria for that determination, he said on Monday, June 29, is based on whether the county has been on the state’s watch list of areas that have seen rises in cases for 14 days. On Tuesday, Newsom added Orange County to that watch list.
Shawn Raymundo is the city editor for the San Clemente Times. He graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in Global Studies. Before joining Picket Fence Media, he worked as the government accountability reporter for the Pacific Daily News in the U.S. territory of Guam. Follow him on Twitter @ShawnzyTsunami and follow San Clemente Times @SCTimesNews.