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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Half a million people in L.A. visited bars right after reopening; many restaurants not in compliance

For context, 700,000 people visit bars on a typical weekend.

Michael Juliano
Written by
Michael Juliano

Did you happen to hit up a bar the day after they reopened? Well, apparently you weren’t alone: Around 5% of Los Angeles County did, too.

That’s according to an estimate released by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, which says that over 500,000 people in L.A. County visited nightlife spots (which they define as bars, breweries, wineries, lounges and dive bars) on June 20, one day after bars were allowed to reopen in the county. To put that into context: Public Health says typical pre-pandemic weekends saw 700,000 visits, while during Safer at Home, weekend visits dropped to 200,000 (which means 200,000 people were still hitting up bars that were technically supposed to be closed). The county doesn’t specify how they arrived at their counts.

UPDATE (6/28): Governor Gavin Newsom has ordered bars in Los Angeles County, as well as six other counties in California, to close again immediately.

This follows another report from Public Health that many restaurants aren’t in compliance with reopening guidelines. On June 15, public health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer noted that, of 2,000 restaurants that L.A. County officials visited, 50% weren’t in compliance with regulations such as table spacing or physical barriers. Public Health has since released a more complete picture: Over the weekends of May 30, June 6 and June 13, county inspectors went to 3,751 restaurants and needed to provide additional information about complying with reopening guidelines to 3,109 of them—or 83%. It’s difficult to discern whether restaurants are doing a better or worse job now (the June 15 numbers don’t cleanly subtract from these new, longer-term numbers), but we do know that, according to Eater L.A., the county will begin issuing orders for restaurants to come into compliance starting this weekend.

These eye-popping numbers come amid increases in coronavirus transmission and testing positivity rates in the county, as well as unprecedented new cases numbers both locally and statewide—prompting Governor Gavin Newsom to pause California’s reopening plans, saying the state won’t move forward “anytime soon.”

As a result, both the county and state are asking everyone to do their part: Stay home if you’re sick, practice social distancing and wear your masks (you have to, anyway).

Editor’s note: Our story initially ran with an image of Idle Hour, which reopened under restaurant guidelines and has not had any reported compliance issues. We regret any implications otherwise.

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