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State tightens restrictions as more downtown businesses die off
Governor closes Stanislaus County restaurants and bars immediately
Pastas Pronto restaurant on Fourth Street in Ceres is closing for good thanks to the state's COVID-19 restrictions which just returned on Wednesday.

Pastas Pronto restaurant and Embroidery Plus on Fourth Street are the latest casualties of the state-imposed COVID-19 economic shutdown, the Courier has learned.

The first vacancy related to the economic shutdown was Sharkey& Mella’s.

Pastas Pronto opened in downtown Ceres in February 2018 and was unable to survive since the state and county forbid restaurants from allowing indoor dining from mid-March until recently. On Wednesday Gov. Gavin Newsom and the California Department of Public Health ordered a host of businesses to halt operations across multiple counties, including Stanislaus, for three weeks because of a rise in coronavirus cases.

Shane Parson, the man who owns the building leased to the closing Italian restaurant, was not happy about the governor’s new order.

“They came down pretty hard this time – I think harder than they have in the past,” said Parson.

Parson owns the building that houses the Tarmac tap room in Atwater also affected by the new order which took place on Wednesday.

The Courier reached out to Pastas Pronto but nobody answered the phone and voicemail capacity was filled. But Parson confirmed his tenant is closing.

“It was going okay (before March) but this just killed them,” said Parson. “Three months of this! And when they said they could open at 50 percent capacity they couldn’t afford to hire the waitresses and dishwashers and all that to make it work. And now today we got three more weeks – all bars, all restaurants, all tap rooms.”

Parson said he is shutting down his Fourth Street embroidery operation on Fourth Street and taking it to a makeshift operation at his Diamond Bar Arena south of Ceres. The business specialized in personalized embroidered clothing and with sports eliminated indefinitely for the fall, much of his clientele is gone.

“MJC is not going to go in the fall. They’re one of my biggest customers. They’ll be no sports for us to do sporting clothes and that sort of thing. Basically a big part of the business is gone.”

Newsom’s orders apply to counties that have been on the county monitoring list for three consecutive days or more. It applies to indoor operations for certain sectors which promote the mixing of populations beyond households and makes social distancing and/or wearing face coverings difficult.

The order applies for a minimum of three weeks and is subject to an extension based on the data.

The guidance applies to the following sectors:

● Indoor dine-in restaurants;

● Indoor wineries and tasting rooms;

● Indoor family entertainment centers;

● Indoor movie theaters;

● Zoos and indoor museums;

● Indoor cardrooms.

These sectors may modify operations to provide services outside or by pick-up.

Additionally, all brewpubs, breweries, bars, and pubs in these counties must close immediately, both indoor and outdoor.

“California is seeing the virus spreading at alarming rates in many parts of the state, and we are taking immediate action to slow the spread of the virus in those areas,” claimed Gov. Newsom. “We bent the curve in the state of California once, and we will bend the curve again. But we’re going to have to be tougher, and that’s why we are taking this action today.”

Community spread of COVID-19 continues to be a concern across the state, and in particular for counties on the county monitoring list. This puts vulnerable populations, including older Californians and those who have chronic conditions or compromised immune systems, at higher risk of becoming seriously ill due to the virus.

“Today’s action is necessary to help slow the spread of this virus,” claimed Dr. Sonia Angell, State Public Health Officer and Director of the California Department of Public Health. “We put ourselves and our community at greatest risk for COVID-19 when we mix with people who don’t live with us. And if you go out, wear a face covering, keep your distance, wash your hands frequently and limit unnecessary indoor activities that increase the risk of exposure.”

The counties impacted by the new order are: Stanislaus, San Joaquin, Merced, Fresno, Tulare, Contra Costa, Glenn, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Solano, Tulare and Ventura.

The CDPH said the sectors included in today’s guidance are all high risk of transmission due to a number of features of the businesses and the behaviors that occur within them.

“These sectors, foundationally, are settings where groups convene and may mix with others for prolonged periods of time often without a face covering,” the CDPH stated in a news release. “Additionally, physical movement within the establishment, duration of time spent in the establishment, and the degree of social mixing among individuals and groups outside one’s household are all significant in these sectors, which substantially elevates the risk of transmission even where face coverings can be worn. Furthermore, in some of these sectors centered on eating and drinking, compliance with face coverings is not possible for the full duration of time someone spends in these establishments.”

The CDPH also is recommending that counties with mandatory closures cancel firework shows, and is reminding all Californians that they should not gather with people they do not live with and avoid crowds. Additionally, all parking facilities at state beaches in Southern California and the Bay Area will be closed for the upcoming weekend. In counties that close local beaches, the State will follow suit and close state beaches. Other state parks will remain open, with measures in place to reduce visitation and limit overcrowding.

(Sabra Stafford contributed to this report).