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California Governor Gavin Newsom Says All Bars and Wineries Should Close to Fight Spread Of Coronavirus

The guidance is not a mandate; Newsom also ruled out closing restaurants for now

California Governor Gavin Newsom And Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf Speak On State’s Actions On Homelessness Crisis Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

In an order issued Sunday press conference in Mather, California, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that bars, wineries, and brew pubs across the state should temporarily close to help slow the spread of novel coronavirus — but emphasized that this is not currently an “official” order from the Office of the Governor.

Newsom, who co-founded the Plumpjack Group, a wine, restaurant, and hotel company, said that guidance is more “nuanced” for restaurants, saying “We don’t believe, ultimately, that” calling for a statewide closure “is necessary at this moment.” However, “we are asking that restaurants practice deep social distancing by reducing occupancy by half” to allow patrons to avoid close quarters.

When asked why there was one expectation for bars and nightclubs and another for restaurants, Newsom said that California needs to “support people who need paychecks in a pragmatic matter,” and that the financial impact of a statewide closure of all restaurants would devastate “businesses and workers.” He also encouraged restaurants to offer curbside food service and at-home food deliveries as alternatives to dining in.

While Newsom said that “the guidance is crystal clear,” he also noted that this is not an official order, which means that it won’t be legally enforced, unlike in Illinois and Ohio, where the governors have mandated shutdowns of the entire bar and restaurant industries. Newsom says that he’s hopeful that nightclubs, brew pubs, wineries, and bars will close on their own, saying that he could “just as easily” make the guidance official if necessary. “I’m confident that these guidelines will be followed,” he said. “I think people individually get that they need to do the right thing.”

Newsom’s order is in addition to the guidance — in some cases, at the official level — presented by counties across the state. Bars in Los Angeles County were closed Sunday by LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, who’s also suggested that dine-in restaurants might soon be ordered to close, Eater LA reports. San Francisco restaurants have been ordered to slash capacity to allow for social distancing, as have larger bars and restaurants.

In addition, Newsom says that every Californian over the age of 65 or with a health condition that makes them vulnerable to COVID-19 should isolate at home, and should avoid communal spaces — like restaurants — to avoid the virus. “We are guided by science and health, not a framework of hysteria,” Newsom said. According to the Governor, 335 people have tested positive for coronavirus in California, an increase of 14 percent since Saturday.