CALIFORNIA — California is closing down all bars and asking residents over the age of 65 and with chronic health conditions to stay home in an effort to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Sunday.
The state has confirmed 335 cases of COVID-19, along with six deaths, Newsom said. The state has conducted 8,316 tests, Newsom said, but widespread shortages of testing kits suggests that the true number of COVID-19 cases is larger than the official totals.
The governor’s order applies to bars, nightclubs, wineries and brewpubs. Restaurants have not been ordered closed, but Newsom said the state will require them to reduce capacity by half and practice social distancing by separating patrons by about six feet.
“We are doing so with our eyes wide open at the magnitude of what that means,” Newsom said of the order.
Meanwhile, Newsom also announced new plans Sunday to protect the state’s homeless population, considered especially at risk of contracting the virus. Newsom said the state will convert hotels and motels to house the more than 100,000 unsheltered homeless people in California.
Increasingly, patients are contracting the virus though unknown exposures, a process known as community transmission. It means the coronavirus may already be circulating within the community. On Thursday, Newsom called for all large gatherings of more than 250 people to be canceled.
In announcing a national emergency on Friday, President Donald J. Trump also promised a series of measures to aid states impacted by the outbreak.
“We’ll remove or eliminate every obstacle necessary to deliver our people the care that they need and are entitled to,” he said.
Within the Golden State, daily life was upended almost overnight this week. Disneyland and other theme parks announced closures and the state’s largest school districts — Los Angeles and San Diego — will close schools for more than a million students.
The governor’s action on Sunday falls short of an official quarantine, which separates people by restricting movement outside the quarantine area. In a quarantine situation, health experts identify a population of people who may have been exposed to a contagious disease such as COVID-19.