SLO County closes bars, tries to curb July 4 beach crowds

Faced with a spike in coronavirus cases and the possibility of out-of-area tourists pouring into San Luis Obispo County, officials have ordered the closure of bars countywide for the July 4 weekend.

In similar fashion to the city of San Luis Obispo, which already enacted an executive order closing bars, SLO County Public Health Officer Penny Borenstein issued an order Friday morning that requires bars, pubs and breweries to close for the remainder of the July 4 weekend. The order requires bars, pubs and breweries to close at 4 p.m. Friday and remain closed until 5 a.m. Monday. 

Borenstein’s order, however, exempts bars with an in-house kitchen that provides full-meal table service. 

At 4:45 p.m. Thursday, San Luis Obispo County received notification that Santa Barbara and Monterey counties were closing their beaches for the weekend. That would likely increase the number of visitors who would travel to SLO County over the holiday weekend, a county news release states. 

Shortly afterwards, SLO County officials decided to close bars countywide to prevent the expected crowds from arriving. 

County officials will coordinate with the beachside cities of Grover Beach, Morro Bay and Pismo Beach, as well as the Port San Luis Harbor District and the sheriff’s office, in order to increase safety checks at retail and food establishments over the weekend. Law enforcement officers will visit businesses in coastal areas this weekend to verify compliance with coronavirus measures. 

“SLO County is not the place to party this weekend. Bars specifically draw large crowds, and we have seen recent cases of COVID-19 likely transmitted within these establishments locally and throughout the state,” Borenstein said in a statement. “Bars are particularly high risk because they are closed, indoor spaces often with poor ventilation, where physical distancing is not always easy or possible, and where close communication (talking face to face) typically occurs.”

A Japanese study recently found it is approximately 19 times likelier for coronavirus to spread person-to-person indoors than outdoors.

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