Governor asks bars to close, senior citizens to self-isolate

March 15, 2020, 6:54 p.m.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom advised that all people over the age of 65 and those with chronic conditions self-isolate in their homes at a press conference on Sunday afternoon.

“We are prioritizing their safety because of their unique vulnerabilities to this virus,” he said. 

Newsom also asked that all bars, nightclubs, wineries and brew pubs in California close. Restaurants, however, may stay open if they reduce their capacity by half and enforce social distancing among patrons.

Speaking from the California State Operations Center, Newsom said he and his team are approaching the pandemic with a “very holistic approach.”

The state will bar visitors from nursing homes, except in end-of-life circumstances. Newsom is also initiating an effort to move California’s 108,000 unsheltered homeless people indoors into trailers and motels. 

The governor also said he would not be closing schools statewide. While over half of school districts in the state have closed — leaving 80-85% of children without in-person class — several smaller districts have chosen not to close. 

Newsom stopped short of issuing a legal requirement, but said he expects that people will comply with these new directives, following the wide-scale success of directives issued on Thursday calling for an end to gatherings over 250 people.

“I have all the expectation in the world the guidelines will be followed on this,” Newsom said. 

He added that, as of Sunday afternoon, cases of coronavirus in California had increased about 14% from the day before. Six people have died since the illness was first reported in the state. 

Newsom also announced the state would be launching a platform in partnership with Verily Life Sciences, a sibling company to Google, which would allow people with mild symptoms or members of vulnerable populations to be scored on their need to be tested, and directed to specific testing sites. Starting tomorrow, users will be directed to two pilot sites: one in Santa Clara County and one in San Mateo County. Newsom also said he expects that the platform will expand significantly into other parts of the state. 

“We believe it will be a national model,” he said, calling Santa Clara County one of the state’s “top priorities.” 

The governor also announced that around 8,316 tests have been conducted in the state by a number of labs and hospitals, including Stanford Hospital. He sought to assure Californians that the government is increasing the capacity of these labs on an hourly basis. 

Contact Emma Talley at emmat332 ‘at’

Emma Talley is the Vol. 265 Executive Editor. Previously, she was the Vol. 261 Editor in Chief. She is from Sacramento, California, and has previously worked as a two-time news editor and the newsroom development director. Emma has reported with the San Francisco Chronicle with the metro team covering breaking news and K-12 education. Contact her at etalley 'at'

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