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Jeannine's Bakery in Montecito
Photograph: Michael Juliano

These Southern California counties can now reopen dine-in service

A running guide to regions relaunching full-service meals

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As Los Angeles awaits the return of dining in at restaurants and in-store shopping, a surge of counties across California are relaunching them as part of what Governor Gavin Newsom has called an “early” reopening. A handful of L.A.’s neighboring counties and favorite road trip destinations can begin offering dine-in service, including the bordering Ventura County and, most recently, Riverside County. 

In order to move further into California’s phase two of reopening before a larger statewide initiative occurs, counties must provide current data on infection rates and hospitalization figures, as well as provide thorough plans to slow and eliminate the spread, and should they meet these benchmarks, can reopen restaurants and retail—provided the businesses follow the state’s ample new guidelines.

As of May 21, Ventura, San Diego, Kern and Santa Barbara Counties can all allow dine-in service. Farther north, the state’s capital, Sacramento, is also cleared to reopen under guidance, as are Napa, San Louis Obispo and Mendocino. On May 22, Riverside County also gained approval, moving into what their officials are calling "phase 2.5." According to the Los Angeles Times, more than two-thirds of Southern California’s counties are now cleared to reopen under this variance; a running list of approved counties can be found here

San Diego especially took the governor’s dine-in guidance to heart, outlining a handful of additional regulations for its county’s restaurants—including mandatory face masks for diners when not seated at their tables, which was a recommendation, not a hard rule, in Gov. Newsom’s statewide guidance.

As to Los Angeles moving farther into phase two, L.A. County officials recently revealed a timeline for its own reopening, setting a goal of July 4 for a full return to retail and restaurant operations. Gov. Newsom has shared that eventually California will push for a statewide reopening, which would presumably entail all counties relaunching retail and recreational activities, including dine-in seating at restaurants, though it is unclear when that statewide push will occur, nor if July 4 would precede or follow Gov. Newsom’s initiative.

Edit: Riverside County gained approval to move deeper into phase two on May 22; this story has been updated with this information.

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