New restrictions placed on bars, restaurants in San Diego County amid coronavirus

Virus Outbreak California
Posted at 2:48 PM, Jun 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-01 09:24:08-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Businesses that serve food with alcohol must now close by 10 p.m. in San Diego County as coronavirus numbers continue to hit record levels.

“The later people stay at an establishment and the more people drink, the less likely they are about social distancing,” Supervisor Greg Cox said at a Tuesday news conference.

RELATED: San Diego County to close bars that don't serve food ahead of July 4 to slow COVID-19 spread

The announcement comes a day after the county orders all bars, breweries, and wineries that do not serve food to close starting July 1.

The county also reinstated an order that alcohol can only be consumed while customers are simultaneous eating meals and can't be ordered alone; and that anyone who does go to a bar, brewery, or winery that serves food can only consume their food and drinks while seated at a table.

The county clarified Tuesday that the rule doesn't apply to wineries that serve outdoors.

"We felt that we were unduly lumped in with other businesses," said Ed Embly, who owns Hungry Hawk Vineyards & Winery in Escondido. "It’s outdoors, everyone maintains a social distance. Comparing us to bars and other locations was unfair."

As long as wineries operate exclusively outdoors, they may stay open under the county's health order.

"Bars are purely social settings where different people and groups often mix. It's a simple reality that alcohol consumption impairs judgment and may lead to less compliance with physical distancing guidelines," Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said on Monday. "People often spend more time in a bar than other establishments like a restaurant for eating."

County officials are also pausing any further business reopenings until after Aug. 1, even if California issues further reopening guidance.

RELATED: Gov. Newsom shuts down bars in Los Angeles, six other counties amid surge in COVID-19 cases

The dialing back of reopenings this week comes ahead of the traditionally busy July 4 weekend.

"We are strongly encouraging San Diegans to be responsible and avoid gatherings, avoid indoor gatherings," Fletcher added on Monday. "The most patriotic thing we can do on the July 4 weekend is adhere to the public health orders and work to save lives."