Bars, nightclubs to close in Ada County after major spike in COVID-19 cases

Published: Jun. 22, 2020 at 3:16 PM MDT
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BOISE, Idaho (CBS2) — Ada County health officials will be closing all bars and nightclubs in Ada County after a major spike in COVID-19 cases.

The Central District Health Department says it's moving the county from Stage 4 to Stage 3 after a "noticeable increase of cases."

“Initially, many of the cases were associated with bars and nightclubs,” said Russ Duke, Central District health director. “But the infection has reached further out into our communities and has risen to the point of great concern.”

The public health order goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday. It will remain in effect until there's a consistent and sustained decline in cases, Duke said.

Gatherings of 50 or more people, both public and private, are not allowed.

CDH had to make the hard announcement today that one of their counties is returning to stage 3 (Ada County). Please help...

Posted by South Central Public Health District on Monday, June 22, 2020

Dr. Ted Epperly, a Central District board member, said local hospitals and emergency rooms have been put on alert after a 500 percent increase of cases. Local emergency room visits have doubled.

"That's the magnitude of the problem," Epperly said.

The health board says it's also considering requiring all residents in the county to wear face coverings while out in public, but at this point it's not mandatory.

"Right now, we're going to rely on voluntary compliance to wear facing coverings when individuals are out in the public, but it may come to that (requiring them) at some point," Duke said.

To date, Ada County has reported 1,256 cases, but new numbers will be released later Monday. Several Boise restaurants have recently closed due to coronavirus.

Some local bar owners say they're frustrated and upset at the developments.

“This is a direct attack on the bars,” said Jason Kovac, who owns Silly Birch, Whiskey Bar and Tom Grainey’s owner. “We asked patrons to wear masks, some required them, we had hand sanitizer and our bars were so empty that all social distancing requirements were exceeded. Now, without any warning, we’re being told we have to shut down again. We have been blindsided.”

Local bar and health officials met last week.

“We all thought we were on the same page after our Thursday meeting. We would continue to follow their recommendations and go above and beyond to keep our establishments safe and healthy,” said Rocci Johnson, Humpin’ Hannah’s co-owner. “We believe we acted in good faith, but that is certainly not being reciprocated when we have received no communication from anyone at CDH that this was going to happen.”

Central District says it’s been in contact with Southwest District Health, which covers neighboring Canyon County.

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