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Gov. Newsom calls for those 65 and over to self-isolation, closure of bars, tasting rooms

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How To Reduce Your Risk

Local health officials urge practicing good hygiene to reduce the risk of becoming infected with a respiratory virus, such as the flu or coronavirus. This includes:

• Washing hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
• Avoid touching your eyes and face
• Cough or sneeze into your sleeved elbow
• Stay home when ill
• Get a flu shot, and it’s not too late this season

Source: Sonoma County Department of Health Services

For more information, go to sonomacounty.ca.gov/Health/Information-About-Coronavirus.

Questions or concerns can be directed to the county’s 24-hour information hotline at 211 or 800-325-9604. You can also text "COVID19" to 211211 for coronavirus information.

For more stories about the coronavirus, go here.

LOS ANGELES — Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sunday called for all bars, winery tasting rooms, nightclubs and brewpubs in the state to close and urged seniors and people with chronic health conditions to isolate themselves at home in a bid to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

The state also will reduce occupancy in restaurants by half to keep people farther from each other, Newsom said at a news conference.

“We require social distancing in these establishments,” the governor said, using the phrase that’s become part of everyday conversation about keeping away from others to prevent the spread of the illness.

It comes as the governors in Illinois and Ohio shut down all bars and restaurants and officials elsewhere said they were considering similar restrictions.

In California, the new orders are “guidelines” that “we have the capacity to enforce if necessary,” Newsom said.

The state had confirmed 335 cases of the virus as of Sunday, a 14% increase from the day before, and recorded its sixth death.

Newsom’s call to close all California bars, taprooms and winery tasting rooms will have massive ramifications across Sonoma County, where tourism plays a major role by pumping $2.2 billion annually into the local economy.

The order will especially hit the local wine industry hard as Sonoma County has more than 425 wineries, with about two-thirds that have approval to operate a tasting room, according to recent estimates.

“From a macro standpoint, it’s huge,” said Pat Roney, chief executive of Vintage Wine Estates, which operates about a dozen tasting rooms as part of its portfolio that includes B.R. Cohn Winery in Glen Ellen, Sonoma Coast Vineyards in Bodega Bay and Cosentino Winery in Napa.

The economic impact to the local wine and hospitality industry from the closures could be as much as two to three times as large as the losses over the last three years due to wildfires and power outages — depending on the length of the closures, Roney said.

The announcement did not come as surprise for many in the local sector who anticipated the announcement given the severity of the crisis. In fact, Rodney Strong Vineyards in Healdsburg announced Saturday it was closing its tasting room for two weeks. Roney said his tasting room traffic was already down between 20% and 60% depending on the location.

HenHouse Brewing Co., which operates taprooms in Santa Rosa and Petaluma, announced Sunday morning that it would only sell its beers to go as it held “our customers, team and community’s health as our top priority.”

Both wine and beer trade groups said they clarified with Newsom’s office that the order did not apply to production of their products nor sales of their products at retail stores or online.

Tom McCormick, executive director of the California Craft Beer Association, said his group understood that brewpubs that serve food such as those operated by Russian River Brewing Co. and Bear Republic Brewing Co. will be allowed to stay open with the directive to maintain “deep social distance” and reduce capacity by 50%.

The virus usually causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But the governor is urging those 65 and older and people with chronic health conditions to stay at home because they can be hit with more severe illness, including pneumonia.

How To Reduce Your Risk

Local health officials urge practicing good hygiene to reduce the risk of becoming infected with a respiratory virus, such as the flu or coronavirus. This includes:

• Washing hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
• Avoid touching your eyes and face
• Cough or sneeze into your sleeved elbow
• Stay home when ill
• Get a flu shot, and it’s not too late this season

Source: Sonoma County Department of Health Services

For more information, go to sonomacounty.ca.gov/Health/Information-About-Coronavirus.

Questions or concerns can be directed to the county’s 24-hour information hotline at 211 or 800-325-9604. You can also text "COVID19" to 211211 for coronavirus information.

For more stories about the coronavirus, go here.

The Democratic governor’s announcement expanded guidance issued last week to cancel or postpone gatherings large and small that has roiled California’s economy, which is the fifth-largest in the world.

Carolyn Genco was sipping a cocktail at Beacon Bar and Grill near Lake Tahoe when the governor’s order came in. The schoolteacher from Phoenix had been snowshoeing after the nearby Heavenly ski resort closed Saturday over coronavirus concerns.

“I think the closures are the right thing to do. So what if I can’t go to a bar?” Genco said. “I have friends in Italy and I know what they’re dealing with over there. We’re behind the curve here, and we need to do more to take precautions.”

Genco said she hopes there’s a plan to help out bartenders and other workers who will lose paychecks during the crisis.

State health officials on Saturday urged movie theaters to keep attendance under 250 people and ask strangers to sit 6 feet apart. Gambling venues were told to limit 250 people per room and clean chips and slot machines more frequently, while theme parks and attractions were told to thin out crowds by staggering attendance.

Meanwhile, California is working with Verily, the life sciences arm of Google parent company Alphabet, to launch a tool to help people find coronavirus testing. An online portal would help people determine if they should be tested and would direct them to mobile testing units in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties.

“We hope this Verily model can scale and be made national,” Newsom said.

The state has increased the number of available hospital beds and will be reopening shuttered medical centers in the coming days. Some 5.3 million older Californians would fall under the directive asking seniors to stay indoors, the governor estimated.

By Monday, up to 85% of California’s 6 million public school students will be out of their classrooms for up to five weeks, depending on the district, as schools look to limit the health risks. Some expanded spring break while others were taking a wait-and-see approach. There were concerns that closing school cafeterias would deprive students of meals, especially those from poorer families. West Contra Costa Unified School District in the San Francisco Bay Area announced that any child under 18 will be able to pick up food at two high schools.

Meanwhile, San Francisco will shut libraries and indoor recreation centers to turn them into childcare centers for low-income families.

Press Democrat Staff Writer Bill Swindell contributed to this report.

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