Long Beach closes bars, wineries in line with governor’s directive

UPDATE | Long Beach will close bars, wineries and other drinking establishments in accordance with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s directives given hours earlier on Sunday in response to the spread of coronavirus.

The city will also limit the number of patrons that can be present in restaurants to half of their building occupancy in order to maximize social distancing.

“Governor Newsom and state officials have been clear, we need to close bars and limit access to restaurants,” Mayor Robert Garcia said in a statement this evening. “Restaurants will continue to play a key role in food distribution, especially as we focus on to-go and pick-up order options. This is a health crisis and we need to take serious measures.”

The specific guidelines issued by the city include:

  • Bars include, but are not limited to, taverns (including bars, pubs, cocktail lounges, and similar establishments) and alcoholic beverage manufacturing facilities. A list of bars will be provided on www.longbeach.gov/COVID19.
  • Restaurants include, but are not limited to, establishments engaged in the preparation and sale of food for immediate consumption with seating for customers to consume on-site. A list of defined restaurants will be provided on www.longbeach.gov/COVID19.
  • Restaurants are encouraged to practice social distancing when serving customers, with spacing 6 feet apart wherever possible, including when standing in line or waiting for food.
  • Restaurants are encouraged to create areas for pickup of food that provide for 6 feet of social distancing
  • Per the governor’s announcement to reduce occupancy by half, Long Beach recommends restaurants only admit half as many patrons as their posted occupancy allowed per the Long Beach Fire Department.

Additional guidance or changes will be issued as needed, the city said in a news release: “The safety of the public will remain at the forefront of the City’s decision-making process.”

Previously, 2:33 p.m. Sunday:  

California Gov. Gavin Newsom Sunday called for extraordinary measures to combat the coronavirus, including the home isolation of everyone over 65 and the closure of bars, nightclubs, wineries and brew pubs.

“We consider this a non-essential function,” the governor said of drinking establishments. “I have all the confidence in the world this guidance … will take shape.”

The state also will reduce current occupancy in restaurants by half to keep people farther away from each other, Newsom said at a news conference. It comes as the Illinois governor shut down all bars and restaurants and officials elsewhere said they were considering similar restrictions.

Newsom said he expects the directive to be followed; the state is not yet taking measures to enforce the directives by force of law. “The new orders are “guidelines” that “we have the capacity to enforce if necessary,” Newsom said.

Newsom also said the state is procuring hotel and motel rooms to house the homeless and unsheltered, who are particularly vulnerable to the virus, and will ask the federal government for more resources to meet the guidelines announced Sunday.

Long Beach has about 1,900 homeless people, according to the latest count in 2019. Roughly 11% of Long Beach is over 65, or about 50,000 people, according to the latest Census numbers in 2019.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti says all bars in the city would be closing. Mayor Robert Garcia said on Twitter that the city was in touch with the governor’s office and that more details would be announced about what this means locally.

The city on Sunday evening released some guidance on caring for the homeless, including identifying city-funded “isolation rooms” to house people who experience symptoms, should the need arise.

Other measures include installing soap dispensers, sanitizer and handwashing stations in public places throughout the city, distributing sanitizing kits to the homeless and outreach and education efforts. City workers who have contact with the homeless will also take steps to protect themselves, including social distancing and wearing masks.

Emily Holman, a communicable disease controller with Long Beach, said on KPCC Sunday afternoon that the city has been working for several weeks on contingency plans for all types of scenarios.

“We are making plans so that our most vulnerable are protected,” she said.

The most important thing for Long Beach residents to remember is to not panic, but prepare, she said.

“Now’s the time to be doing all of this so it doesn’t become a huge crisis in our city,” Holman said, adding that the city has been in communication with hospitals and that they are prepared.

The state has increased the number of available hospital beds and will be reopening shuttered medical centers in the coming days, the governor said.

So far five people have tested positive for coronavirus, or COVID-19, in Long Beach, and about 100 people are being monitored for the illness. The state has confirmed 335 cases of the virus and recorded its sixth death.

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 advisories were the latest effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus that has affected virtually every facet of life in California.

Some stores limited sales of toilet paper and other goods to combat hoarding. Thousands of people were being urged to work from home, if possible, rather than coming into the office. Colleges and universities have said they will hold classes online.

By Monday, one-third of California’s 6 million public school students will be out of their classrooms for one up to five weeks, including Long Beach Unified students.

If Long Beach residents think they’ve been exposed to the coronavirus, they should call—not visit—their healthcare provider, who must determine a test is necessary for one to be administered.

Long Beach residents can also call 562-570-INFO (4636), between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. if they can’t get in touch with their healthcare provider.

City officials urged residents to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 by practicing good hygiene, avoiding crowds and keeping six feet of distance from people when possible.

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.

More information is also available on the city of Long Beach’s coronavirus site: http://www.longbeach.gov/COVID19.

This is a developing story; it will be updated. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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