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Margot rooftop bar
Photograph: Jesse Hsu

L.A. County restaurants must close indoor dine-in service for at least three weeks

Gov. Newsom announced today that restaurants in L.A. and 18 other counties must close dining rooms immediately.

By
Stephanie Breijo
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Just weeks after reopening dining rooms across Los Angeles County, L.A.’s restaurants need to move all onsite dining to the outdoors, or revert to takeout- and delivery-only models once again. In an address today, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that restaurants in L.A. and 18 other counties will need to close indoor dining rooms immediately; according to the California Department of Public Health, outdoor dine-in service is still permitted.

“This doesn’t mean restaurants shut down,” Gov. Newsom said. “It means that we’re to take as many activities as we can and move them outdoors, which is a way of mitigating the spread of this virus.”

The rollback affects not only indoor dine-in service at restaurants but also indoors areas in bars, wineries and brewpubs that serve food, plus movie theaters, family entertainment centers, zoos, museums and card rooms (L.A. movie theaters had yet to reopen). In addition, bars in the affected counties were also ordered to close, though they’ve already done so in L.A. 

The governor’s new round of closures comes after a week of increasing hospitalizations and documented coronavirus cases across the state. Here in L.A., on Monday county officials reported our highest single-day case total, surpassing a total of 100,000 cases, and shared that hospitalizations as well as transmissions are on the rise. Death totals are also expected to increase.

Infection rates and positivity rates are spiking throughout California, landing nearly half of the state’s counties on a watch list; those remaining on this list for three consecutive days are now on Gov. Newsom’s “mandatory closure list.” These 19 counties currently affected represent more than 70 percent of California’s population, and include Contra Costa, Fresno, Glenn, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, Merced, Orange, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Joaquin, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Solano, Stanislaus, Tulare and Ventura.

The move trails a Sunday announcement by Gov. Newsom in which he closed L.A. County bars that don’t serve food, as well as those in six other California counties—and advised closing bars throughout the rest of Southern California. Days prior, he shared that the entire state is at a pause on moving into the next phases of the state’s reopening plans. Now, he’s moving all restaurants in affected counties a step back, and closing bar operations in these 19 counties, too.

Restaurants initially shuttered dine-in on March 17, and, for those with approval to reopen early, relaunched onsite dining service starting May 29 with extreme modification per state and county guidelines, which detailed limitations such as capped seating at 60 percent capacity; mandatory masks for servers; an end to tableside service and self-serve stations; cordoned-off bar seating; and required masks and six feet of distancing for guests.

Throughout the last month of reopenings for restaurants and bars L.A. County officials have shared startling figures on businesses following—or not following—coronavirus health and safety guidelines; just this week 54 percent of bars and 44 percent of restaurants were caught with workers not wearing masks and face shields. 

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