Newport Beach to consider emergency ordinance restricting walk-up bars

The Newport Beach City Council will consider Tuesday an emergency ordinance that would mandate face coverings for employees and social distancing at any eating or drinking establishment with a walk-up bar.

The item was requested for consideration by Councilwoman Joy Brenner at the council’s Aug. 25 meeting.

Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered the closure of all indoor bars and restaurants on July 13, and operations are currently stalled for indoor dining while Orange County remains in the first tier of the state’s new guidelines for reopening. The Orange County Health Care Agency reported Friday that there have been 1,060 cases and 21 deaths of COVID-19 in Newport Beach.

The proposed ordinance will enforce current state guidance on face coverings and implement a “one person, one seat” policy that will require establishments to limit seats at a walk-up bar to those that are 6 feet apart. Only one patron can occupy a seat at a time.

Customers will also not be allowed to stand at any walk-up bar and those waiting to purchase a drink from a walk-up bar will have to do so in a manner that ensures 6 feet of physical distance.

All dining areas in eating or drinking establishments will be required to organize in a way that tables and corresponding chairs are separated from those not of the same household. If dining amenities cannot be moved, then certain accommodations will be selected and labeled for non-use to maintain a 6 feet distance.

It will also require the wearing of face coverings by all volunteers, agents and employees of eating or drinking establishments while working in both outdoor and indoor areas.

Offenders of the emergency ordinance, if adopted, will be fined $100. The fine for a second violation within six months will be $200 and, for a third violation within a six-month period, $500. Upon adoption, the ordinance will be in effect until the local emergency is terminated or if the ordinance is repealed by the City Council.

Tuesday’s council meeting will begin at 6 p.m. and can be viewed on NBTV or streamed online at newportbeachca.gov/government/departments/public-information-office/nbtv/nbtv-live. Phone numbers will be listed on-screen during the meeting for residents to call in and comment on specific agenda items. Only 20 people can be on hold at one time.

Members of the public are also encouraged to submit comments to the city clerk at cityclerk@newportbeachca.gov by 5 p.m. on Sept. 7.

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