County calls for bars, breweries to shut down

Loopholes could keep some businesses open

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Bars and breweries in Hollister may have to shut down this weekend and beyond following some modifications made by the state due to rising cases of Covid-19. 

San Benito County officials announced July 8 that Dr. David Ghilarducci, county interim health officer, issued an order that all brewpubs, breweries, bars and pubs—both indoor and outdoor—must close immediately for not less than three weeks. 

According to a press release, the new order begins Friday, July 10, at 11:59 p.m. But, there are some loopholes for these businesses to stay open, including curbside sales.

Bars and breweries must offer certain services such as sit-down outdoor meals. Alcohol can only be sold in the same transaction as a meal.

Peter Lago, owner of Johnny’s Bar and Grill at 526 San Benito Street, said he’ll be able to keep his business open with outdoor seating space in the back. He said he’ll also be able to serve in the front of the building thanks to the street closures.  

County officials said that venues that sell beer, wine and spirits for off-site consumption but do not offer sit-down or dine-in meals should follow the guidance for retail operations. 

Restaurants, wineries, tasting rooms, family entertainment centers, movie theaters, zoos, museums and card rooms will still be allowed to operate in outdoor settings in accordance with state guidance.

County officials said the new order may be extended beyond three weeks depending on epidemiological conditions.

Gov. Gavin Newsom on July 1 instituted a statewide order for counties that are experiencing high daily case counts of cases of Covid-19. Other factors that played into the statewide order included increased test positivity, increased hospitalization or limited hospital capacity for three or more consecutive days.

On July 7, the California Department of Public Health placed San Benito County on the Covid-19 County Data Monitoring Project watch list. Since then, the county has been on the monitoring list for three consecutive days.

According to the press release, San Benito County exceeded the state’s 14-day case rate threshold of 100 cases per 100,000 residents and the overall positivity rate. The county’s current value is 107.8.

The 14-day case rate equals the total number of cases diagnosed and reported over a 14-day period divided by the number of people living in the county. This number is then multiplied by 100,000.  

The overall testing positivity rate for the past seven days is at 8.6 percent.

San Benito County health officials reminded people that there’s a statewide mandate to wear a cloth face covering inside of any indoor public space or if they’re unable to maintain six feet of social distance outside. 

They also strongly recommend that all residents, including business sectors, practice safety measures to reduce the spread of Covid-19 such as clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces like door handles and elevator buttons.

Other reminders include washing hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds or using hand sanitizer with a 60 percent alcohol base. Anyone experiencing any Covid-19 symptoms should visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html

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