A number of counties are reopening bars across California today in light of last week’s announcement that clears a handful of business sectors to return with modification. Nearly all of the state’s counties meet the requirements to reopen further, officially entering the third stage of Governor Gavin Newsom’s recovery roadmap by relaunching some but not all of its included categories—and when it comes to hospitality, this includes bars, wineries and other beverage-forward spaces that don’t serve food.
Riverside County moved forward with bar reopenings today, as did Santa Barbara, Orange, San Diego and Ventura counties. But when it comes to Los Angeles County, the newly relaunched sectors are more limited: As of today gyms, fitness studios, hotels, museums, aquariums, art galleries, professional sports (without an audience), RV camps, day camps, camping, public swimming pools, and TV and film production can all resume. Bars, wineries and breweries that don’t serve food? Not so much.
While county officials have yet to address why bars specifically are not allowed to reopen—especially given restaurants, as well as bars that serve full meals, began reopening on May 29—it is possible the decision was made with social distancing in mind: Even as L.A. restaurants reopen, any bar areas should be cordoned off to ensure six feet of distance can be kept between guests.
A need for distancing appears necessary in Los Angeles this week; when it comes to coronavirus deaths and new-case counts, L.A. County is still leading Southern California’s reported figures by thousands across a number of metrics. According to California’s daily statewide update, today L.A. County’s positive cases total 68,807, while Riverside County, the second-highest count in the region, is listed at 10,014. L.A.’s death toll is 2,813; Riverside’s is 380—L.A. County’s population is roughly five times larger, but even proportionately the spread is much graver.
Today L.A. County public health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said it is “entirely probable” that L.A. will see its cases continue to rise as sectors reopen.
For those sectors that are allowed to relaunch with modification today, each must follow its own set of guidelines—both from the state and the county—tailored to each industry. Additionally, the county requires guests to wear face masks when visiting these reopened businesses.
“As with all businesses that are permitted to reopen, the health-officer order contains protocols for reopening to ensure that it’s done as safely as possible for employees, customers and residents,” Dr. Ferrer said in an address on Wednesday. “Before business can reopen, they must implement the protocols.”