Before anyone gets too comfortable thinking bars, indoor dining and museums can restart on July 23, the reality is that's the best case scenario. Worst case: If Covid-19 cases continue to rise too fast and too high over three weeks that date could be extended further out.
"These closures shall remain in effect in Monterey County until I direct otherwise, which will be no earlier than July 22, 2020," reads the order from Sonia Y. Angell, California's public health officer and director with the California Department of Public Health.
"The current data reflect that community spread of infection is of increasing concern across the state, and most particularly in those counties on the County Monitoring List," she states near the top of the order, signed and dated on July 7. Monterey County landed on the monitoring list on July 2.
She specifically states that out of concern for vulnerable populations the state must take action to stop the spread of Covid-19 in those communities.
"Public health studies have shown that the risk of transmission is exacerbated in indoor spaces, particularly when lacking appropriate ventilation," the order reads. Length of exposure is also an issue. "In contrast to indoor spaces, wind and the viral dilution in outdoor spaces can help reduce viral load."
Bars—which were shut entirely with no possibility of opening even outdoors—are the highest risk, because groups tend to mix with other groups, alcohol slows brain activity which can lead to bad decisions and risky behavior. Loud environments mean people start raising their voices and spraying viral droplets into the air.
"In summary, while these businesses represent a valued part of the fabric of our state, the characteristics of these types of establishments contribute to an environment with substantially increased risks for Covid-19 transmission," Angell writes in the order.
Monterey County first learned closures were coming in a tweet from Gov. Gavin Newsom on July 6, stating that the "alarming" rates of Covid-19 in the county and other counties necessitated the action. On July 7, the CDPH informed Monterey County officials that the closures would go into effect at 12:01am the following day.