Bars must close in Sacramento County as virus cases climb, health officer says

Local News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Bars in Sacramento County were ordered to close Monday as the county experiences a spike in new coronavirus cases.

County health director Dr. Peter Beilenson said the directive would take effect at 6 p.m.

Over the weekend, Governor Gavin Newsom ordered bars to close in seven counties, including Los Angeles and San Joaquin, and recommended bars close in eight others, including Sacramento and Stanislaus.

A normally lively neighborhood bar was suddenly lifeless again. The booths sat empty with no customers to listen to classic vinyl at B-Side bar in midtown Sacramento.

A small crew was putting alcohol away for a second time.

The bar was only open for three weeks since the last shut down ended and management told FOX40 they do not know when they will be able to serve their customers again.

“It is frustrating,” B-Side manager Jason Boggs said. “It’s just kind of sad. There’s no revenue coming in at all.”

B-Side is just one of the many bars across Sacramento County that was told to close its doors as cases of COVID-19 surge.

“We’ve had well over a thousand cases in the last week compared to 2,000 total in the previous 18 weeks, so that’s a huge increase,” Sacramento County Health Director Dr. Peter Beilenson said.

Beilenson told FOX40 that the data shows the transmission of the virus is mostly happening in two places: family gatherings and bars.

“Just by their very nature of where people will — let’s be honest — will be slightly inebriated, will be less likely to social distance as that goes on, less likely to use masks, less likely to wash their hands and all those reasons lead to bars being a problem,” explained Beilenson.

Beilenson said that of the over one thousand known recent infections in the county, only four have been linked to recent protests. 

But why are protests safer than bars?

“We think there are three reasons. Number one, the majority of people are young, not all of them are young but the majority of them are young. Number two, a huge proportion of them are wearing masks. And numbers three, it was outdoors and outdoors have proven to be much safe for COVID spread than indoor,” explained Beilenson.

Management at B-Side said they took extra precautions to protect workers and customers, such as installing plastic barriers and posting signage for social distancing.

“I thought that we did a pretty good job,” said Boggs.

Although Boggs said he is disappointed with the closure, he told FOX40 he values public health over profit. 

“Money isn’t everything. You know what is? Health,” said Boggs. “So, we’re going to take this and we’re going to find a way to make it work.”

Beilenson told FOX40 that although hospitals in Sacramento County are seeing a spike in COVID-19 patients, numbers are still stable and he wants to keep it that way.

He added out of 420 available ICU beds in the county, 300 of them are being used.

Beilenson also lifted the county’s ban on reusable shopping bags.

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