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San Diego County Restaurants Ordered To Start Closing By 10 P.M. Amid Virus Surge

People eat inside of STP Bar-N-Grill in Clairemont Mesa on the first day rest...

Photo by Mike Damron

Above: People eat inside of STP Bar-N-Grill in Clairemont Mesa on the first day restaurants are allowed to reopen for dine-in service, May 21, 2020.

A spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in San Diego County has prompted officials to pause any additional reopenings through at least Aug. 1 and order all county restaurants to close at 10 p.m. starting Wednesday night.

County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said patrons already inside eateries by 10 p.m. may stay inside until 11 p.m., but those locations must be closed from then until 5 a.m. each day. Staff required to clean those facilities may remain inside after closing hours.

All county bars, breweries and wineries without food licenses were also ordered to close starting today. Other businesses that serve food and alcohol will have restrictions in place as well.

Starting today, customers purchasing alcohol on-site must also purchase food, and both drinks and food must be consumed sitting down.

Officials said a recent trend of community outbreaks and increased case numbers were part of what spurred the new restrictions.

County health officials reported 317 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday and four additional deaths, bringing the county's total numbers to 14,149 cases and 365 deaths.

Of the 7,382 tests reported Tuesday, 4% came back positive. The 14-day rolling average percentage of positive tests is 4.2%.

Tuesday also marked the highest number of patients in local hospitals on any given day due to COVID-19, with 493 hospitalized at present.

County Supervisor Greg Cox said Tuesday, "We know that these measures are not welcomed by all. We recognize that this is a frustrating setback in our region's efforts to control the coronavirus and reopen."

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said bars and restaurants represent more than a quarter of the county's community outbreaks.

Fletcher said that with the July 4 holiday weekend upcoming, closures were not anticipated for beaches, as he said all community outbreaks in the county have come from indoor settings such as bars, restaurants and gatherings at private residences.

In the past seven days, 10 community outbreaks were identified, including one each in a restaurant, a private residence, a healthcare facility and a grocery store reported Tuesday, officials said.

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sunday ordered all bars to close in seven counties, including Los Angeles County, and recommended that eight other counties close their bars as well to limit the rapid spread of the coronavirus.

The eight other counties included Ventura, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

San Diego County was not included in either list.

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