Troubled By a Surge in COVID-19 Infections, Gov. Newsom Orders Bars to Close

Trunks Bar at 8809 Santa Monica Blvd.

Gov. Gavin Newsom today ordered bars in Los Angeles County and six other counties to close to prevent further spread of the coronavirus, as the state experiences a surge in new cases and evidence of rising community transmission.

Newsom’s order comes 10 days after bars were permitted to re-open so long as they followed strict sanitation and social distancing rules. In West Hollywood bars that have re-opened and now will be forced to close include Mother Lode and Trunks in the city’s Boystown nightlife district.

But in West Hollywood, which has more alcohol sales licenses per capita than any other city in California, many restaurants include bars. Some WeHo locations such as Beaches, Hi Tops, and Rocco’s are better known for their bars than their food service, however they will be able to continue to serve alcohol to customers so long as they order meals. Beaches and Barney’s Beanery both have been investigated by the city’s Code Enforcement Division for previously selling cocktails without requiring that one purchase a meal.

Newsom issued his order in a tweet at 12:17 p.m. “NEW: 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.”

“We are actively monitoring COVID-19 across the state and working closely with counties where there are increased rates and concerning patterns of transmission,” said Dr. Sonia Angell, the state’s public health director. “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.”

Local law enforcement agencies said they were just learning of the order along with everyone else.

“We just got the notice. But as of right now, we have not been given any guidance, which way. It’s breaking news,” Officer Rosario Cervantes of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Media Relations Section told City News Service.

“We probably won’t know of anything until Monday,” said Deputy Tina Schrader of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Information Bureau. “We are the last to know.”

Los Angeles County officials have reported “significant increases” in coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and test positivity rates in recent days, including 2,542 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 20 additional deaths reported today. 

Those numbers brought the county’s totals to 97,894 cases and 3,305 fatalities.  As of today, there have been 246 confirmed COVID-19 infections and four deaths in West Hollywood.

Before today’s announcement, Mickys in West Hollywood alerted it customers that it still wasn’t ready to open

According the Los Angeles Department of Public Health, the seven-day average of daily new cases is more than 1,900, an increase from the 1,379 average two weeks ago. There are 1,717 people currently hospitalized, which is higher than the 1,350 to 1,450 daily hospitalizations seen in recent weeks.

And, with test results now available for more than one million individuals, 9% are testing positive. The cumulative positivity rate has increased from 8% to 9%, and the seven-day average of the daily positivity rate has increased from 5.8% two weeks ago to 8.6%.

Some officials have attributed the rise in overall cases to increases in testing, but Barbara Ferrer, the county’s director of public health, said repeatedly in recent days that the metrics clearly demonstrate an increase in community spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Health officials said Friday the rise in cases — hitting the county’s younger population particularly hard — likely reflecting re-openings of bars and restaurants and participation in this month’s mass demonstrations against police brutality.

Ferrer said Thursday that residents and business owners — most notably bars and restaurants — have a joint responsibility to adhere to health requirements and protocols. She noted that over the three recent weekends after restaurants and bars were permitted to reopen for dine-in service, county inspectors visited more than 3,700 establishments, and 83% of them were found not to be in full compliance with county protocols for reopening.

Ferrer said that over the past two months, the largest percentage of complaints the Department of Public Health received about restaurants and other businesses were violations of the requirement that safety protocols be publicly posted at each establishment and distributed to employees. The second most common complaint was people not wearing face coverings.

“Business owners, we ask that you too do your part,” Ferrer said Thursday. “Our guidelines are not suggestions. They are mandates. If you see someone in your business that’s not wearing a face covering, take action. If you see large groups of people congregating in your business, question whether those folks truly came from the same household and take action. Ask them to step away from each other.

“I know this is difficult. It’s summer, restaurants and bars are open, and things seem like they’re back to normal, but they’re not. The virus is deadly. The virus remains in our community and if we don’t collectively take the necessary steps to be safe we’ll continue to see people we love get sick, be hospitalized and potentially die.”

Officials are also warning the public about reports of phony mask exemption cards that depict a government seal with threatening language.

“Everyone, except children under the age of 2, should wear a face covering securely over their nose and mouth any time they leave the house and keep six feet apart from others not in your household when out and about,” a health department statement said. “People with medical conditions that prevent safe use of a face covering are asked to wear a face shield. Accurate information will always be distributed officially by Public Health through official channels in the form of a press release, on the Public Health website and through social media accounts @lapublichealth.”

While the average number of daily deaths from the virus has been dropping, the number of daily new cases is on the rise. According to the county, the seven-day average number of new cases was 1,979 as of Friday, up from 1,379 just two weeks ago.

Ninety-four percent of the county’s 3,285 coronavirus deaths have occurred in people with underlying health conditions.

EDITOR”S NOTE: This story has been updated to include the number of confirmed COVID-19 infections and related deaths reported as of today (Sunday).

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C.R.
C.R.
2 months ago

This is just a continuation of the entirely random government responses to this whole epidemic. There is no strategy, just scapegoats. Strictly referring to California, how many covid cases are specifically linked to bars being open? Anyone even have an approximation, much less some good stats? Haven’t seen it. Yet this is enough to form policy around? If any bar is struggling for money, the ball is in your court to take your own steps to keep your business afloat. Otherwise if you just follow this government by crapshoot directive issuance, you probably deserve to go out of business. Where… Read more »

Manny
Manny
2 months ago
Reply to  C.R.

Here’s the justification for bars to close from the State Order: A bar, foundationally, is a social setting where typically not only small groups convene, but also where groups mix with other groups. 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. Further, alcohol consumption slows brain activity, reduces inhibition, and impairs judgment, factors which contribute to reduced compliance with recommended core personal protective measures, such as the mandatory use of face coverings and maintaining six feet… Read more »

Vigilant
Vigilant
2 months ago
Reply to  C.R.

If you want to stop the train you have to use the brakes.
There is no other answer.

C.D.
C.D.
2 months ago

I don’t buy the hot “food” at 7-11, but I did notice that at the Holloway and La Cienega location, the employee handling the food was not wearing a mask. And she was visible to everyone in the store. I wonder what is happening in restaurants where the kitchen employees are not visible?

Ham Shipey
Ham Shipey
2 months ago

West Hollywood has been changing…..but this virus will accelerate the pace of change. Most bars (as well as restaurants and hotels) won’t survive another month or two with these rock bottom revenues.

The banks will soon control the buildings and with access to cheap $$…….we can expect demo and new mixed use buildings on the way. There is a return to be made from housing….but not from bars and restaurants.

The City Council won’t be able to stop the change coming.

John Daniel Harrington Tyrell
John Daniel Harrington Tyrell
2 months ago

It the City wishes to be The Creative City, how about a creative plan to address the businesses creative need to reopen? How are businesses ever going to reopen if City leadership does not take the lead?

Clean Up WEHO
Clean Up WEHO
2 months ago

The city council doesn’t know much about business.

Maybe John Duran. Because he knows how to work the tax system. With over $350,000 tax liens. Over his career. Actually, West Hollywood could be called the Creative City and home to a politician with more tax liens than any other elected official in the history of the United States!

The bottom line, is the city council, except for Meister, only connection with business is taking lots of political contributions and doing their pay for play dance.

Where’s the FBI?

Manny
Manny
2 months ago

Nothing “creative” about this. It’s about science. More virus, more closures. There’s nothing creative about public health policy. I don’t know how many pandemics you’ve been through, but on this planet the County makes the decisions, not the city.

Johnjx on Hancock
Johnjx on Hancock
2 months ago

So who exactly is closing? Just the bars that don’t serve food? Mickey’s and Rage had food, but they aren’t open. Rocco’s seems completely out of control.

Jon Ponder
Jon Ponder
2 months ago

Ultimately this backward step is Trump’s fault. He has convinced his gullible followers that not wearing a mask is a political statement supporting him. Because of that among other factors the infection rate is surging again.Trump’s management of this crisis, if you can call it that, is a massive, and deadly, failure of leadership.

BlockParty
BlockParty
2 months ago

Thank you all for the loyalty and love we are feeling everyday at the shop. We are open everyday and thanks to you our rent is paid current. Appreciate all the comments we are getting for being the pulse in the heart of the city and we are doing our best to keep people safe and survive.

Eric Jon Schmidt
2 months ago
Reply to  BlockParty

I think it is in poor taste for the Block Party store to invoke the word “pulse” in its self-proclaimed importance to the City of West Hollywood. I know two people who died in the Pulse nightclub. Plus, to use the word “loyalty” during the dark days of the trump years also speaks volumes. I, for one could not possibly care less if the Block Party pays it’s rent. Public health is much more important than keeping a novelty store open. The people who are doing their “best to keep people safe and survive” are front line healthcare workers. In… Read more »

Michael Gracr
Michael Gracr
2 months ago

Block Party! The pulse of the city? That use to be a bookstore. Now it’s just a five and dime for poppers and everything else catering to the hue polloi This is what West Hollywood is now. Booze and anti-intellectualism Or at least that one little section of Santa Monica Boulevard. It doesn’t even really represent West Hollywood anymore. For most of us who live east of La cienega to La Brea. Central & East WEHO. where we have no direct representation at City Hall. Since the five council members live west of La Cienega. It’s time to divide West… Read more »

Jim Nasium
Jim Nasium
2 months ago

I picked a bad week to start drinkin again.

Ham Shipey
Ham Shipey
2 months ago

The silver lining….is that the bars are closed in WH.

Vigilant
Vigilant
2 months ago

This was predictable. With the adolescents that proliferate West Hollywood, these orders show a D- in the community report card and an F- in the honor category. Altogether a super failing grade which will give great weight to its economic downfall.

Please individually and collectively (with the proper distance) stand in the corner, until you come to your senses and understand the concept of responsibility and accountability.

Peter Buckley
Peter Buckley
2 months ago

So predictable, protests sanctioned by our city council are still ok as they don’t spread virus.

TomSmart
TomSmart
2 months ago

I understand Bayou only sells chips and salsa to stay open. Hard to believe that passes.

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
2 months ago

Yet another hit to the WeHo economy.

WeHoMikey
WeHoMikey
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Martin

I’m not a Good Citizen … I don’t drink. Now that I’ve come out if the closet with my shameful truth, I’ll be kicked out of my apartment and I’ll lose my Gay Card.