Ventura County orders residents 75 and older to shelter in place until April 1 amid coronavirus pandemic

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An electronic sign reads 'COVID-19 Less Is More Avoid Gatherings' along the I-10 Freeway on March 14, 2020, in Los Angeles. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

An electronic sign reads ‘COVID-19 Less Is More Avoid Gatherings’ along the I-10 Freeway on March 14, 2020, in Los Angeles. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

All Ventura County residents aged 75 years and older were ordered to shelter in place at their homes through the end of the month starting Wednesday as officials worked to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Those 70 and older who suffer from chronic health conditions were also ordered to stay at home, officials announced Tuesday.

People under the shelter-in-place orders can only go outside for food or medicine, or if they work in healthcare or government, according to the public health order. While outside, they have to stay at least six feet away from others.

The orders came after California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sunday urged those 65 and older as well as people with chronic health conditions to isolate themselves at home.

Ventura County officials on Tuesday also ordered all bars, nightclubs, wineries, breweries, gyms, theaters, bowling alleys, arcades and live performance venues throughout the county to close for two weeks starting Wednesday.

Restaurants will only be allowed to offer food through delivery or for pickup, county officials said.

Both Los Angeles and Orange counties have issued similar orders to limit gatherings.

“The intent of this order is to strengthen the steps the County of Ventura has already taken to protect our residents and particularly the most vulnerable in our population from COVID-19,” Ventura County Health Officer Robert Levin said in the public health order.

Those found in violation of the new orders can face a fine or time in prison, officials said. 

The orders go into effect at 12:01 a.m. March 18 and will remain in place until 11:59 p.m. April 1. 

Ventura County Public Health announced six new presumptive coronavirus cases Tuesday. In total, there have been 10 people who tested positive for coronavirus in Ventura County, according to the agency. At least 193 had been tested as of Tuesday.

At least eight other counties in California have issued shelter-in-place orders, including in the San Francisco Bay Area where millions were ordered to stay at home and only go outside if it’s absolutely essential.

Health officials have emphasized that “social distancing” is the best tool to slow down the spread of the coronavirus in the absence of a vaccine.

Those 65 and older, pregnant women and those with underlying health conditions can experience more severe symptoms if they are infected with the virus, according to public health officials.

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