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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Los Angeles bars can reopen on Friday

L.A. County approves bars and a handful of other businesses to reopen this weekend

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As of Friday, June 19, bars, breweries, wineries and any other beverage-forward establishments can reopen in Los Angeles.

Last week California gave the go-ahead for bars to relaunch in pre-approved counties across the state, and though Los Angeles qualified, it abstained, only reopening select operations such as gyms, museums and hotels. Today, county officials announced a modification to L.A.’s health orders, which will now allow bars, tattoo parlors, beauty salons and massage parlors to reopen as soon as tomorrow.

Riverside County moved forward with bar reopenings last week, as did Santa Barbara, Orange, San Diego and Ventura counties. On June 19, L.A. bars can join them, too, though many area bars already reopened by serving food or teaming up with local pop-ups to meet restaurant-reopening requirements. The option to reopen L.A. bars arrives during a relatively stable week in positive coronavirus case counts, though on Monday the county shared that at least 1,000 of the restaurants (and bars serving food) that inspectors visited over the weekend were not in compliance with the new reopening rules and safety procedures.

The state released its own guidance for bars last week, but L.A. County operations will need to follow additional, mandatory regulations released today. Between the two new sets of guidelines, we can expect the enforcement of a 50% capacity limit, providing face coverings for employees, maintaining six feet of distance between guests, mandatory face masks for guests when not eating or drinking, keeping music volume low (to ensure servers can hear orders while keeping distance), and discontinuing any form of live entertainment for the time being.

Perhaps most notably of all, customers are no longer allowed to order and pick up drinks from the bar areas themselves to bring back to a table—instead, a server must take and carry their order. They can, however, order and sit at the bar if they can stay six feet from the bartender and other customers.

You can find the full list of L.A. County guidelines for bars, wineries and breweries here.

“As with all businesses that are permitted to reopen, the health-officer order contains protocols for reopening to ensure that it’s done as safely as possible for employees, customers and residents,” L.A. County public health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said of the reopenings last week. “Before business can reopen, they must implement the protocols.”

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