California orders closure of bars, senior citizens to stay in their homes

ACRAMENTO — Gov. Gavin Newsom called Sunday for all senior citizens and residents with chronic conditions to isolate themselves at home, as well as for all bars, wineries and brewpubs to close, launching the state’s most sweeping effort yet to slow the spread of coronavirus.

No other state has imposed such restrictions on residents age 65 and older. Newsom said his orders do not come with enforcement but that he expects residents and counties to follow his protocols. California has 5.3 million residents over the age of 65.

“This will be socialized in real time,” Newsom said. “I have all the confidence in the world.”

The governor’s announcement came a day after large crowds continued to enjoy nightlife in cities across the nation despite public warnings to avoid social activities. The weekend before St. Patrick’s Day drew green-clad revelers to many bars and pubs, and the city of Sacramento went so far Friday as to encourage people to dine out by eliminating nighttime parking fees.

Absent further action, the revelry was expected to continue Tuesday on the actual St. Patrick’s Day, which traditionally sees bars open in the morning to packed crowds across the nation.

“We believe this is a non-essential function in our state,” Newsom said of alcohol-focused establishments. Newsom himself has long owned a wine business.

Unlike a handful of other governors Sunday, Newsom did not call for restaurants to close, but to halve their capacities and create the recommended six feet of distance between patrons.