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California Governor Gavin Newsom Calls for Statewide Closure of Dine-In Restaurants

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Delivery and takeout will still be available, as will food trucks

California Faces First Case Of “Community Acquired” Coronavirus
Gavin Newsom
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

California Governor Gavin Newsom has expanded his call for extraordinary restaurant measures to help prevent the further spread of the novel coronavirus, saying late Monday night that all restaurants statewide should suspend dine-in service for the foreseeable future. The “new guidance,” as the San Jose Mercury News puts it, is not an enforceable mandate — but it could turn into one.

In a public address late Monday evening, Newsom called for the “alignment” of different policies at the city, county, and state levels, specifically citing Bay Area counties, the City of Los Angeles, and Los Angeles County’s mandates that all restaurants cease dine-in service. Much like those counties and others up in the Bay Area, Newsom said, he is now:

Asking our restaurants to close down for the moment, provide takeout if they wish, and operate in that frame. That will focus our alignment across the state of California, and we believe it’s necessary.

The full press conference can be seen here. In a later written statement, Newsom added the following specific bullet points regarding different types of food and beverage businesses.

California COVID-19 Update

Governor Gavin Newsom provides a COVID-19 update. *subtitles will be added shortly after the broadcast ends.

Posted by California Governor on Monday, March 16, 2020

Retail Beverage Service Venues:

  • Bars, wineries, breweries and pubs should be closed, except for venues that are currently authorized to provide off sale beer and wine to be consumed off premises are allowed.
  • This guidance is not intended to affect production of beer and wine.
  • Bars, breweries, pubs, and wineries that include meals provided by a full kitchen should follow the restaurant guidance below if they provide delivery or pick-up options

Restaurants/Cafeterias:

  • Restaurants should be closed for in-restaurant seated dining and should be open only to drive-through or other pick-up/delivery options.
  • Remind employees of best hygiene practices including washing their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Increase frequency of cleaning and sanitizing per CDC Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection guidance of all hard surfaces, including tables and counter tops that are being utilized by employees and patrons during pickup/delivery options.

Food Trucks:

  • Increase frequency of cleaning of menus, cash registers, receipt trays, condiment holders, writing instruments and other non-food contact surfaces frequently touched by patrons and employees.
  • Ensure that social distancing of six feet per person for non-family members is maintained and make clear that family members can participate together, stand in line together, etc.
  • Limiting the number of people in lines.
  • Increase frequency of cleaning and sanitizing per CDC Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection guidance of all hard surfaces.
  • Remind employees of best hygiene practices including washing their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

“Shifting operations to focus on pick up and delivery options should be prioritized,” the statement also reads.

Just days ago, Newsom also directed all bars, brewpubs, tasting rooms, and public-facing winery spaces to shut down across California in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, saying at the time that he was not issuing an executive order, but that he was still “confident that these guidelines will be followed.” He later added: “I think people individually get that they need to do the right thing.” Last night’s announcement also falls short of being an executive order, though it is likely that restaurants will continue to close their dining rooms (and operate delivery or takeout only) without the need for larger legislative action or enforcement.

In the address, Newsom also directed small business owners to the California Office of Emergency Services website for more information on loans becoming available through the U.S. Small Business Administration. These loans, up to $2 million, have varying pay-back periods, and are not interest-free, however; for for-profit businesses, the interest rate is 3.75 percent.

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