June 30, 2020 -- In U.S. counties where new coronavirus cases are hitting record highs, officials are targeting the places where the virus seems to be spreading quickly — bars and nightclubs.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered bars in Los Angeles and six other counties to close, he wrote in a Twitter post on Sunday. He also recommended that bars be closed in eight other counties.
“Transmission is increasing in the state,” he said during a press briefing on Monday.
Los Angeles and surrounding counties may need to “toggle back” their reopenings, he added. Although he plans to leave the decision up to county officials, Newsom said he’d intervene if cases continue to increase.
“We will be stepping up our enforcement,” he said. “If people are flaunting those rules and regulations, we’ve got to do more.”
On Sunday, the California Department of Public Health posted guidance about closing bars and a county monitoring list to address the spread of COVID-19. This week, 15 counties are under “active monitoring by the state.”
The proposal says that counties on the list for three or more consecutive days should close brewpubs, breweries, bars and pubs. Next to the higher risk of transmission, contact tracing is also challenging at bars, according to the report.
Bars are especially ripe locations for coronavirus spread because unguarded social mixing within and among groups of patrons can go on for hours.
“A bar, foundationally, is a social setting where typically not only small groups convene, but also where groups mix with other groups,” according to the statement. “Physical movement within the establishment, duration of time spent in the establishment, and the degree of social mixing within individuals and groups are all greater in bars than in other hospitality sectors.”
Later Monday, Los Angeles County officials also announced beaches there would be closed for the July 4th weekend, CBS News reported. The edict means all beaches, piers, parking lots, beach bike paths and access points will be shut down. Last week, Texas and Florida also closed bars to slow the spread of the coronavirus, according to NBC News.
“There was widespread noncompliance, and that led to issues,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said during a press conference. “If folks just follow the guidelines, we’re going to be in good shape. When you depart from that, then it becomes problematic.”
In Florida, officials are also preparing for the July 4 weekend, with Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach closing beach access to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, according to CNN.
Mayors from coastal cities in Broward County announced the decision during a news conference on Sunday.
“The reason why we're doing this is because we feel that we will not be able to provide the necessary safe environment that everyone is entitled to enjoy when they come to our beaches," Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis said.