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Bar owners, locals frustrated with bar closures due to rising coronavirus cases

O'Malley's bar on State Street
Scott Sheahen / KEYT

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- Starting Wednesday, Santa Barbara County bars will be closed.

The closure came Monday evening live on our evening newscast and in a Santa Barbara County Public Health Order.

Santa Barbara County Public Health officer, Dr. Henning Ansorg made the announcement Monday on our newscast and explains why bars were pointed out.

"Wearing a face mask defeats the purpose of going to a bar," said Dr. Ansorg. "We understand that. But, unfortunately this is not a good time to party in that way."

Bars across the County will close indefinitely in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. New cases nearly doubled over the past month. But, the owner of O'Malley's bar, Dan Baham, doesn't think bars are to blame.

"I think the spike probably has a lot to do with a lot of these protests and the rallies, and people not wearing masks and walking around," said Baham. "I don't think you can isolate it to a particular establishment or particular bar."

O'Malley's plans to evaluate its options.

The health order issued Monday said bars that sold food and alcohol in the same transaction could remain open. And O'Malley's might do that.

In the meantime locals are frustrated that four months into this pandemic, things are getting worse and closing again.

Troy Dowling and Brian Saldivia both live in Santa Barbara and enjoy hanging out on State Street.

"I think just people wanting to go back to normal," said Dowling, "and it was fun, it was great, but on the other hand I didn't really get the impression that we were doing what we need to do in order to, you know, quell the virus."

Saldivia added, "Just because we want it to be over, doesn't mean it's over. You know, the virus is still around, but, life does need to somewhat continue."

Dr. Ansorg said State and national research shows bars have been a major source of spreading the virus. And a lot of it has to do with a certain age group.

"The younger generations are no longer are immune to this virus," said Dr. Ansorg. "And it is still very contagious. And the more cases we have in the community, the more it spreads."

Dr. Ansorg said if the situation doesn't get better, more shutdowns could be on the way.

Business Matters / Health / Lifestyle / Money and Business / Santa Barbara- S County / Santa Maria - North County

Scott Sheahen

Scott Sheahen is a reporter at KEYT | KCOY | KKFX.

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