California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a news conference at the California Department of Public Health on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020, in Sacramento, Calif. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/TNS)

Newsom directs bars to close, restaurants to reduce capacity

Seniors and immunocompromised individuals are also urged to socially isolate

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sunday directed the closing of all bars, nightclubs, brewpubs, and wineries in the state and called for Californians age 65 and older to self isolate, among other coronavirus-related restrictions.

Bars, nightclubs and the like are considered “non-essential,” while restauraunts will remain open to feed those who can’t cook at home. However they are being asked to cut capacity by half and follow social distancing for customers.

“We believe this is a non-essential function in our state and we believe this is appropriate,” Newsom said Sunday about primarily alcohol-serving institutions. “There is a concern around access to food for those who cannot prep their own food.”

Those who may not be able to prep their own food may include California’s more than five million residents age 65 and older , who he urged to socially isolate. Older populations and those with chronic illnesses or conditions are at higher risk of death or complications from coronavirus.

In the coming days, the state will come forward with a plan to deliver food, water, and basic supplies to those who may need it while remaining at home for days on end.

“We are doing so with our eyes wide open with the magnititude of what that means,” Newsom said. “We are prioritizing their safety.”

The California governor also outlined the estimated 8,000 unsheltered people in the state as a top concern. While officials have identified 450 trailers and motels, shelters must adjust with social distancing.

Up to 85 percent of public school students are part of the state’s 51 percent of districts closing in the coming weeks, Newsom estimated. He signed an executive order on Friday ensuring that shuttered schools would retain state funding, but added Sunday that he was worried about students who rely on school lunches and students with special needs.

To increase testing capacity, the state is partnering with Google’s Verily to launch an online tool that can sort through coronavirus concerns and deploy eligible people to mobile testing without overwhelming the health care system. It’s expected to go online for Californians on Monday and plans to scale up.

When asked repeatedly about instituting martial law to crack down, Newsom said they have the right to but that the “nation-state” isn’t at that point yet. As for economic impacts, Newsom called it “challenging” but had a positive outlook.

“We’re gaming out the financial impacts, not just to the state budget but to families and individuals,” Newsom said. “We’ve never been in a better position to weather a recession, full stop.”

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