Effective midnight on July 1, Ventura County Public Health, in response to instructions from the California Department of Public Health aimed at curbing the recent spike in coronavirus cases, ordered all bars and indoor dining rooms at restaurants to close for at least three weeks. 

On July 1, in response to spiking numbers across the state, Gov. Gavin Newsom instructed counties (currently 19) that have been on the state monitoring list for more than three days in a row to close indoor operations of certain types of businesses. 

Ventura County has been on that list since last week due to exceeding the allowed number of positive cases per 100,000 people and for exceeding the allowed percentage of increase in hospitalizations due to COVID-19. 

Diners and pedestrians enjoy Main St. in Ventura, recently closed to vehicles. Photo by Kimberly Rivers.

These closures are an effort to limit interactions between people from different households and to encourage people to adhere to physical distancing with face coverings. 

Bars are required to close: “All Bars shall be closed to the public until those establishments are allowed to resume operation per state guidance and local permission,” per the VCPH July 1 statement. “A bar is considered any business that is licensed to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on its premises, including but not limited to bars, pubs, brewpubs, breweries, wineries, and distilleries, if the business is not a permitted restaurant by the Ventura County Environmental Health Division.”

Restaurants dining rooms are required to close. Takeout/delivery is allowed:Dine-in ‘Restaurants’ shall not allow indoor dining service until those establishments are allowed to resume indoor dining operations per state guidance and local permission,” per the VCPH July 1 statement. “For purpose[s] of this Order, ‘Restaurant’ means any business that is permitted as a restaurant by the Ventura County Environmental Health Division, even if it also possesses a license to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on its premises. Restaurants should continue to encourage takeout and delivery service whenever possible, however, outdoor dining is still permitted following the state guidance: https://files.covid19.ca.gov/pdf/guidance-restaurants-bars.pdf. Restaurants that cannot accommodate outdoor dining can continue to provide takeout and delivery services.”

The businesses that are required to close all indoor operations and only operate outdoors are: dine-in restaurants, family entertainment centers, zoos and museums. “All brewpubs, breweries, bars, pubs, wineries and tasting rooms must close indoor and outdoor operations.”

Movie theaters, allowed to reopen on June 26, are now ordered to close. Cardrooms also must close. 

Downtown Ventura Partners has announced the City of Ventura has allowed them to further expand the pedestrian only zone on Main Street to include the 200 block, allowing more restaurants to offer outdoor dining. 

The July 1 statement issued by Ventura County Public Health emphasized that all businesses allowed to operate, including those with outdoor services, “must” adhere to “all industry or sector guidance documents that have been issued to date, including all infectious control measures.” 

 VCPH also stated, “Businesses that are not in compliance are subject to closure.” 

The state, county and cities have coordinated enforcement efforts in place and will involve such agencies as State Alcoholic and Beverage Control, County Environmental Health, Ventura County Sheriff’s Office and local city partners. 

The VCPH Order requiring these recent closings is online at: https://vcportal.ventura.org/covid19/docs/2020-07-02_VC_Public_Health_Officer_Order_-_Bar_Closures.pdf. 

 Questions regarding compliance: covidcompliance@ventura.org or call 1(844) 826-7367. 

County information is at: www.venturacountyrecovers.org.