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All bars, nightclubs, breweries, wine tasting rooms, and other public-serving alcohol establishments should close to combat the spread of COVID-19.  

That’s what the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department is now urging, doubling down on what Governor Gavin Newsom strongly suggested Monday night and emphasizing what the California Department of Public Health further advised on Tuesday.  

“Restaurants and other food facilities offering on-site dining should immediately transition to only offering delivery or take-out service as part of the public health effort to slow the spread of coronavirus disease,” reads the notice, which was released at 1:30 p.m on Tuesday, March 17. 

Though the notice is “urging” compliance, it appears to be a directive, rather than a mandatory order. This is causing confusion, especially in the wine industry. If the order was mandatory, many believe they would be able to recoup losses through business interruption insurance. But because it is not yet mandatory, they may have no way to recover the lost business.

The department also asked such establishments “to cancel any planned St. Patrick’s Day celebrations or events.”

Other means of getting food, such as grocery stores, markets, and food-bank distribution centers, will not be affected by the notice, except in complying with the standard social distancing guidelines now in place all around the world. 


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