Orange County has issued severe restrictions to its more than 3 million residents, county officials announced Tuesday afternoon.
“This prohibition applies to all professional, social and community gatherings, regardless of their sponsor, that are not engaged in essential activities,” the order states.
Health officials directed the closure of bars and other alcohol-serving establishments that don’t serve food. The order also prohibits restaurants from provide on-site dining. Only curbside service and takeout are now allowed.
“Any person who violates or who refuses or willfully neglects to obey this regulation is subject to fine, imprisonment, or both,” the order states. It cites California’s Government Code, which provides for fines of up to $1,000, six months in jail or both.
“We are taking these mitigation steps in line with a directive issued by Governor Newsom to help slow the spread of COVID-19,” Orange County Health Officer Dr. Nichole Quick said in a statement. “We recognize community members may experience anxiety related to the social disruption caused by COVID-19, and want to encourage residents to reach out to loved ones using appropriate methods like telephone, video messaging, email and text.”
Fears surrounding the coronavirus outbreak have hit the local business community hard in recent days.
Among those now-shuttered spaces is South Coast Plaza. The renowned Costa Mesa shopping center closed Monday night and will remain so for two weeks after a store employee tested positive for the virus on Sunday night.
“Our understanding that closures of public gathering places in Orange County are important for a chance to meaningfully stem this pandemic is the reason we took this action,” mall spokeswoman Debra Gunn Downing said in a statement. “Although [the employee testing positive] is not the reason for the center’s closure, it reinforced the need for us to take action.”
Other local businesses have started to feel the sting, too.
Jim Walker, who owns the Bungalow restaurant in Corona del Mar, said business was fine until last Monday. Then it tanked by more than half, and he’s now operating at a loss amid a coronavirus-driven bust.
His lunch customers are working from home. His dinner crowd trends older, and while his Long Beach establishment, Domenico’s Pizza, is able to offer takeout, the Bungalow’s upscale American fare doesn’t lend itself to that.
“People typically don’t order a filet mignon to go,” he said.