San Diego Issues Sweeping Mandates Closing All Bars, Restaurants, Schools, Gyms, Theaters & Non-Essential Services Amid Growing Coronavirus Outbreak Precautions

March 16, 2020

After California Governor Gavin Newsom called for the closure of all bars, nightclubs, brew pubs and wineries just yesterday, San Diego today dictated new precautionary measures to battle the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak at a press conference this afternoon, including mandating the closure of all bars, theaters, schools, and non-essential public gathering spaces, as well as limiting restaurants to only take-out and delivery. The order is in effect until March 31 at the earliest at which point it may be renewed for a longer period.

"We're not trying to be perfect, but we are trying to do the most good for the most people to help flatten the curve," concluded San Diego Supervisor Nathan Fletcher at a press conference this afternoon. "We are in a fast-evolving health crisis and need to do everything we possibly can to prevent the spread of this disease. We are asking the community to come together in a different way, proximity is not an option, but purpose is. Please heed the guidance we're providing today."

The eventual forced closure of restaurants (except for delivery and take-out), bars, gyms, casinos, and entertainment venues in the state of California has been all but a foregone conclusion since this weekend, as these are the prescribed precautionary measures dictated by experts and already performed to fight the growing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic in countries like Italy and Spain. Numerous U.S. cities and states have already mandated such closures including Ohio, Illinois, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, Los Angeles, and even the country's capitol of Washington D.C.. This afternoon at a press conference, San Diego Supervisor Nathan Fletcher announced a citywide mandate to go into effect at midnight tonight limiting the function of any non-essential business and requiring social distancing policies to go into effect. Restaurants will be permitted to operate for take-out and delivery only and must adhere to social distancing guidelines during operation. Bars without food must close. Police and sheriff's officers will be monitoring to ensure all bars and restaurants adhere to the order.

The following mandates are to go into effect starting today:
  • All public and private gatherings of 50 or more are prohibited and non-essential gatherings of any size are strongly discouraged.
  • All bars, adult entertainment and other business establishments that serve alcohol but do not serve food shall close by midnight tonight.
  • All restaurants are to close but will be permitted to continue delivery, pickup, and drive through service as long as they maintain social distancing precautions. In person dining is no longer permitted after today.
  • All businesses shall suspend any policy of procedure regarding doctor approval to be sick. 
  • All public/private schools, colleges, shall not hold activities where students gather on campus. 
  • A strong recommendation was made that all people 65 or older or will medical condition, etc. shall self quarantine at home.
  • Non essential personnel are prohibited in hospitals.
  • Hospitals shall take measures to preserve resources.
  • Hospitals shall report all COVID-19 cases immediately.
  • All persons arriving in the county shall be subject to 14-day home quarantine.
  • There was a strong recommendation for persons exhibiting mild to moderate symptoms to self isolate at home.
  • There are also additional guidelines on childcare facilities coming soon.
Regarding the homeless population, the city acknowledged a prevalent danger for them and will be taking proactive steps, including installing hand washing stations, with 180 to be placed in 13 jurisdictions and 58 additional stations requested for delivery today. There will also be 1,300 hygiene kits delivered tomorrow with information on the virus, soap, water, hand sanitizers, and more. Approximately 227 motel rooms have been secured and will be available to anyone who is under investigation, showing symptoms, and who does not have a home or can't return to home for isolated care. Food and transportation will be provided and the city aims to require 2,000 motel rooms to be used to shelter and help the homeless population or the increasing vulnerable population. There will be dedicated county staff in each sector (business, school, etc.). Individuals are asked to continue to donate blood in order to maintain supply in the region. The city also indicated that a countrywide lockdown would likely occur very soon.

The full San Diego citywide emergency mandates are copied below:

Pursuant to California Health and Safety Code sections 101040, 120175, and 120175.5 (b) the Health Officer of the County of San Diego (Health Officer) amends the Health Officer Order dated March 12, 2020 as of 12:00 a.m. on Monday March 16, 2020. The Health Officer ORDERS AS FOLLOWS:

Effective 12:00 a.m. on Monday, March 16, 2020, and continuing until 11:59 p.m. on March 31, 2020, the following will be in effect for San Diego County (county):
  1. All public or private “gatherings,” as defined in section 20 below, are prohibited. All non-essential gatherings of any size are strongly discouraged.

  2. All bars, adult entertainment establishments, and other business establishments that serve alcohol and do not serve food, shall close.

  3. All restaurants and other business establishments that serve food shall close all on-site dining. All food served shall be by delivery, or through pick-up or drive thru. Social distancing shall be required for persons picking up food on premises.

  4. All businesses shall enact social distancing, increased sanitation standards, and shall make every effort to use telecommuting for its workforce. All businesses shall suspend any policy or procedure requiring doctor verification for sick or other leave approval.

  5. All public or private schools, colleges, and universities shall not hold classes or other school activities where students gather on the school campus. Parents of school-aged minor children shall take steps to ensure said children are not participating in activities prohibited by the Order and that social distancing requirements are practiced.

  6. A strong recommendation is made that all persons who are 65 years old or older, have a chronic underlying condition, or have a compromised immune system self-quarantine themselves at home.
  1. “Non-essential personnel,” as defined in section 20 below, are prohibited from entry into any hospital or long-term care facility. All essential personnel who show any potential signs or symptoms of COVID-19 shall be strictly prohibited from entry into hospitals or long-term care facilities.

  2. Hospitals and healthcare providers shall take measures to preserve resources including delaying non-emergent or elective surgeries or procedures where feasible.

  3. Hospitals, healthcare providers, and commercial testing laboratories shall report all COVID-19 test results to the Public Health Officer immediately after such results are received.

  4. All persons arriving in the county, from locations as found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Warning Level 3 Travel Advisory shall be subject to 14- day home quarantine, self-monitoring. This includes originating or connecting flights through these countries and includes South Korea, Japan, Italy, China and Iran, and any other country that is subsequently added to that list, which is available at: (

  5. A strong recommendation is made for persons exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 to self-isolate themselves in their place of residence unless seeking medical treatment.
  12.  This Order is issued as a result of the World Health Organization’s declaration of a worldwide pandemic of COVID-19 disease, also known as “novel coronavirus,” which has infected at least 179,165 individuals worldwide in 155 countries and is implicated in over 7,000 worldwide deaths.
  1. This Order is issued based on the increasing transmission of COVID-19 in California and the significant risk of widespread introduction and transmission of COVID-19 into the county.

  2. This Order is issued based on scientific evidence regarding the most effective approaches to slow the transmission of communicable diseases generally and COVID-19 specifically, as well as best practices as currently known and available to protect vulnerable members of the public from avoidable risk of serious illness or death resulting from exposure to COVID-19. The age, condition, and health of a significant portion of the population of the county places it at risk for serious health complications, including death, from COVID-19. Although most individuals who contract COVID-19 do not become seriously ill, persons with mild symptoms and asymptomatic persons with COVID-19 may place other vulnerable members of the public—such as older adults, and those with underlying health conditions—at significant risk.

  3. This Order will reduce the likelihood that many individuals will be exposed to COVID-19, and will thereby slow the spread of COVID-19 in the county. By reducing the spread of COVID-19, this Order will help preserve critical and limited healthcare capacity in the county.
16. This Order is issued in accordance with, and incorporates by reference: 1) the Declaration of Local Health Emergency issued by the Health Officer on February 14, 2020; 2) the Proclamation of Local Emergency issued by the County Director of Emergency Services on February 14, 2020; 3) the action of the County Board of Supervisors to ratify and continue both the local health emergency and local emergency on February 19, 2020; 4) the Proclamation of a State of Emergency issued by Governor of the State of California on March 4, 2020: 5) Executive Order N-25-20 issued by the Governor of the State of California on March 12, 2020 which orders that “All residents are to heed any orders and guidance of state and local health officials, including but not limited to the imposition of social distancing measures, to control COVID-19; and 6) Proclamation 9984 regarding COVID-19 issued by the President of the United States on March 11, 2020; and the Health Officer Order dated on March 12, 2020.

17. This Order is issued to prevent circumstances often present in gatherings that may exacerbate the spread of COVID-19, such as: 1) the increased likelihood that gatherings will attract people from a broad geographic area; 2) the prolonged time period in which large numbers of people are in close proximity; 3) the difficulty in tracing exposure when large numbers of people attend a single event; and 4) the inability to ensure that attendees follow adequate hygienic practices.

18. This Order comes after the release of substantial guidance from the Health Officer, the California Department of Public Health, the CDC, and other public health officials throughout the United States and around the world. On March 11, 2020, the California Department of Public Health recommended the cancellation or postponement of large gatherings.

19. This Order comes after the CDC issued: “Interim Additional Guidance for Infection Prevention and Control for Patients with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19 in Nursing Homes.”

20. For the purposes of this Order:
  1. “Gathering” is any event or convening that brings together 50 or more people in a
    single room or single space at the same time, such as an auditorium, stadium, arena, theater, church, casino, large conference room, meeting hall, cafeteria, or any other indoor or outdoor space.
  2. “Long term care facility” is a facility serving adults that require assistance with activities of daily living, including a skilled nursing facility, and that is licensed by the California Department of Community Care and Licensing, or the California Department of Public Health.
  3. “Non-essential personnel” are employees, contractors, or members of the public who do not perform treatment, maintenance, support, or administrative tasks deemed essential to the healthcare mission of the long-term care facility or hospital. Non-essential personnel do not include first responders, nor State, federal, or local officials, investigators, or medical personnel carrying out lawful duties. Entry of visitors at long-term care facilities are allowed upon the approval of the facility’s director, or designee, for the purpose of allowing family and friends to visit a resident in an end of life situation, or to allow parents or guardians to visit a child who is a patient, and where appropriate precautions by the facility that follow federal, State, and local public health guidance regarding COVID-19 are followed.
  1. “Social Distancing” is maintaining a six-foot separation from all persons except for family members.
  2. This Order does not prohibit:
    1. Operations at airports, public transportation or other spaces where 50 or
      more persons may be in transit but able to practice social distancing. It also does not include essential businesses where many people are present but are able to practice social distancing.
    2. Emergency shelters, homeless shelters, or other similar essential gatherings that are for the protection of public health and safety and where appropriate precautions are taken that follow federal, State, and local public health guidance regarding COVID-19.
21. Gatherings of less than 50 people are strongly encouraged maintain social distancing pursuant to Department of Public Health guidelines.

22. Pursuant to Health and Safety Code section 120175.5 (b) all governmental entities in the county shall take necessary measures within the governmental entity’s control to ensure compliance with this Order and to disseminate this Order to venues or locations within the entity’s jurisdiction where a large gathering may occur.

23. Violation of this Order is subject to fine, imprisonment, or both. (California Health and Safety Code section 120295.)

24. To the extent necessary, this Order may be enforced by the Sheriff or chiefs of police pursuant to Government Code sections 26602 and 41601 and Health and Safety Code section 101029.

25. This Order shall be reevaluated and extended if appropriate on or before March 31, 2020.

Date: March 16, 2020
______________________________________ Wilma J. Wooten, M.D., M.P.H.
Public Health Officer
County of San Diego

As Director of Emergency Services for the County of San Diego, I am authorized to promulgate regulations for the protection of life and property pursuant to Government Code Section 8634 and San Diego County Code section 31.103. The following shall be in effect for the duration of the Amended Health Officer Order issued above which is incorporated in its entirety by reference:

The Amended Health Officer Order shall be promulgated as a regulation for the protection of life and property.

Any person who violates or who refuses or willfully neglects to obey this regulation is subject to fine, imprisonment, or both. (Government Code section 8665.)

Date: March 16, 2020 ______________________________________ Helen Robbins-Meyer
Chief Administrative Officer Director of Emergency Services County of San Diego

This is a developing story: We will update this post as we learn more.