SANTA ANA, Calif. - All Orange County bars, pubs, breweries, and brewpubs that do not offer dine-in meals are ordered closed effective Thursday due in order to help curb the spread of COVID-19, health officials announced Wednesday.
The county's health department issued a revised health officer order that orders bars to close effective 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, July 2, 2020, and continuing until further notice.
The bar closure decision comes a day when county health officials announced 570 more coronavirus cases and five more deaths, bringing the county's totals to 14,413 cases and 345 fatalities.
On Tuesday, the county reported a one-day record 779 newly confirmed cases.
Last week was the deadliest of the pandemic in Orange County, with 56 deaths reported. Since Sunday, the county has reported 22 fatalities.
The number of hospitalized patients in Orange County rose from 510 on Tuesday to 542 Wednesday, with the number of patients in intensive care increasing from 176 to 192.
For bars, pubs, breweries, and brewpubs that offer sit-down or dine-in meals, alcohol can only be sold in the same transaction as a meal. Those businesses will still be required to abide by the state's guidance for dine-in restaurant health and safety protocols.
Bars, pubs, breweries, and brewpubs that do not offer sit-down or dine-in meals themselves, but contract with another vendor to provide that service, may serve dine-in meals in their establishment if the dine-in vendor follows the dine-in restaurant guidance.
Venues that are currently authorized to provide sale of beer, wine, and spirits to be consumed off-premises and do not offer sit-down or dine-in meals are required to follow the state's guidance for retail operations.
Pamela Waitt, the President of the Orange County Restaurant Association said the bar closure and banning of dine-in seating at restaurants is "devastating."
"I think more bars actually serve food so that is a bright spot, but of course not all bars do, and so it's going to be very hard. This is going to be hard on everybody in the industry from the vendors, to the restaurants to the employees, it's a tough situation. We can get through it if we support it. The bars that have to shut down have to shut down," Waitt said.
Waitt said more restaurants survived the first round of closures than expected, but the second round will be difficult.
"This is very much an open wound, and adding to this is going to make it a challenge but it's also a resilient industry," Waitt said.
Freddy Barajas, the owner of Mariscos El Cangrejo Nice in Santa Ana said 90% of his business is dine-in.
"We were doing so good [after the reopening of dine-in] and some people were coming in and dining in again and we thought we were going to survive, we were going to do OK, but now that it's going to be closed for dine-in, we don't know what's going to happen. My main concern is about our employees. A lot of employees are gonna lose their jobs for at least the next three weeks and it's going to be a major impact on them, for their families," said Barajas.
Barajas said though it will impact his business, he agrees with the closure for the sake of public safety.
"My personal opinion is I'm ok with whatever is good for the community because if that's going to help with the spread of the virus, I think I have to agree with it. I can't be selfish just because I was making a little bit more money and selling more items and more people were coming into my restaurant," Barajas said.
Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday that 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 coronavirus tests.
As a result of Orange County remaining on the list for three consecutive days, state officials were expected to recommend the closure of the county's bars.
"We can't just have Orange County be the only county with bars open on the Fourth of July weekend. It's going to be a magnet," said county Supervisor Lisa Bartlett.
FOX 11's Koco McAboy and CNS contributed to this report