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Photograph: Stephanie Breijo

Gov. Newsom calls for statewide bar and dine-in closures; Mayor Garcetti bans onsite dining

Written by
Stephanie Breijo

3/17 Update: Late Monday night, Gov. Newsom held another press conference to update Californians on coronavirus directives, this time urging all restaurants to close their dine-in services until further notice. The move mirrors Los Angeles orders to shutter all restaurants, with the exception of takeout and delivery services.

3/15 Update: Hours after Gov. Newsom's directive to close all California bars and limit the state's restaurant seating capacity by 50 percent, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti took to the podium to outline his new executive order closing all Los Angeles bars and nightclubs, and placing a moratorium on onsite dining, effective midnight tonight until March 31, unless extended. Restaurant pickup and delivery services will still be available, as will normal access to grocery stores. 

"Know that our actions aren't just about ourselves," Mayor Garcetti said in his address. "Our decisions will determine the fate of loved ones. Our decisions and actions will determine the length of this crisis, the damage done to our economy and ultimately how quickly we will get back up on our feet."

Trailing days behind New York City’s ordinance to halve restaurant capacity to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, California Governor Gavin Newsom declared this afternoon that the Golden State’s own service industry should follow suit, and that bars will ideally shutter today.

Gov. Newsom issued guidance during a press conference on Sunday that all bars, wineries, breweries and nightclubs should close. While not technically an executive order, the move echos similar, new mandates in Ohio and Illinois. Restaurants will not be forced to close across California, though per his announcement last Thursday, any event hosting more than 250 people should postpone or cancel entirely, and any spaces where a six-foot distance between patrons cannot be met should be avoided. 

The governor’s guidelines given last week also were not executive orders, but they were quickly embraced and enacted.

A number of restaurants throughout the city are already pivoting to delivery specials and pickup menus to serve those under self-quaratine while continuing full-service operation, though few have cut their dining room seating at all, let alone by half. Some, such as Mini Kabob, Freedman’s, Howlin’ Ray’s, Little Beast and Majordomo, are temporarily closing entirely. 

While Gov. Newsom reiterated that he does not believe restaurants should close as of yet, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti discussed a more drastic proposal with CNN today: He said he would absolutely consider closing dine-in restaurants “besides pickup, takeout and drive-through,” as first reported by Eater. In an official statement on Sunday afternoon, Garcetti said he stood by Newsom’s guidelines but offered no additional directives.

“This is a difficult time and it’s putting a strain on our families, our communities, our businesses,” Mayor Garcetti tweeted today. “There are other ways you can support local shops: buy a gift card over the phone, get takeout, order online. We can support local business and practice social distancing.”

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