O.C. Bans In-Person Dining, Shuts Down All Bars Through March

Orange County restaurants are restricted to takeout or delivery orders and all bars must shut down under an order issued Tuesday to slow the spread of the coronavirus that causes the respiratory infection COVID-19.

Nichole Quick, Orange County health officer, issued a sweeping order that prohibits all gatherings, public and private, “of any number of people, including at places of work, occurring outside a single household or living unit.” The prohibition, the order says, applies to all professional, social, and community gatherings not engaged in “essential activities.”

The order takes effect immediately and will be enforced through March 31.

Essential activities include government health and safety workers, healthcare operations, first-responders, grocery stores and suppliers of other staples, media services, gas stations, banks, and other services.

As for restaurants, all on-site dining must close. Carryout and delivery service are permitted, and social distancing is required for diners picking up food. Bars that serve alcohol but do not serve food must close.

Many restaurants in Orange County offer discounts for takeout and delivery orders as well as family-style meals and gift card deals, and a cooperative has been established to help restaurants source ingredients and other supplies so they can to continue to serve meals.

Other restaurants are offering goods sold out at local grocery stores at this time. For instance, you can directly purchase raw, butchered-to-order prime meats from Selanne Steak Tavern and artisan bread loaves, buns, and bagels from Crema Cafe.

Restaurants that have made the decision to close and end all operations such as Cafe Sevilla in Costa Mesa are seeking ways to donate to local food pantries and homeless shelters.

During its temporary closure, the Disneyland Resort is donating all excess food to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County.

Violations of the order are subject to fines, imprisonment, or both, the health officer said.

COVID-19 is a highly contagious infection that affects lung function, especially in older adults. The health officer’s order recommends all persons 65 or older remain at home in self-isolation to avoid contracting the virus.

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