Shawn Raymundo, Dana Point Times

The county of Orange took drastic measures to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus on Tuesday, March 17, issuing a ban on all professional, social and community gatherings of any number of people at places of work.

In a second press release issued on the same day, Molly Nichelson, a county Emergency Operations Center officer, clarified that the public health order was not an order to shelter in place, like what had been issued in San Francisco.

“It is important for all Orange County businesses to remain open while practicing social distancing consistent with the Governor’s guidance,” Nichelson said in the release. “However, following State guidelines, all bars and other establishments that serve alcohol and do not serve food shall close.”

All restaurants and other establishments that serve food shall close onsite dining. Pickup, delivery and drive thru services may remain open.

With the exception of essential activities that include health and safety operations, grocery stores, gas stations, banks, and media outlets, to name a few, the county has prohibited all public and private gatherings, according to the order from OC Health Officer Dr. Nichole Quick.

“All business shall enact Social Distancing, increased sanitation standards, and shall make every effort to use telecommuting for its workforce,” the order states. “All businesses shall suspend any policy or procedure requiring doctor, verification for sick or other leave approval.”

Effective Tuesday afternoon, March 17, all bars and drinking establishments that don’t serve food have been ordered to close, while restaurants have been told to close all onsite dining. The ban will stay in place until April 1.

The health officer’s order also strongly recommended that anyone over the age of 65 or have serious chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease, lung disease and diabetes, or have a compromised immune system to self-isolate at home.

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