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When will Los Angeles restaurants reopen? Here's what we know so far.

The latest updates on state, city and county guidelines for reopening dine-in service

Written by
Stephanie Breijo

5/29 Update: Gov. Newsom and the state of California approved L.A. County's application for early reopening today, which was filed on May 27. Los Angeles restaurants can reopen as swiftly as tonight, provided they follow the new dine-in guidelines set today by L.A. County, as well as those set weeks ago by the state. To help restaurants reopen smoothly, Mayor Garcetti also announced today the new L.A. Al Fresco program, which can approve temporary sidewalk and parking-lot seating immediately.

5/21 Update: A number of Southern California counties have been approved to reinstate dine-in service with modifications. As of today Ventura, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Kern counties can seat guests for a full-service experience, provided the businesses comply with Gov. Newsom's detailed reopening guidanceLos Angeles County officials recently revealed a timeline for our own reopening, setting a goal of July 4 for a full return to retail and restaurant operations; whether we will see a more gradual rollout in L.A. is yet to be seen. 

5/18 Update: In today's address, Gov. Newsom indicated that 53 of California's 58 counties now qualify to reopen under phase-two guidance, should they so choose, but did not reveal the counties that are eligible. In a separate address, L.A. County Department of Public Health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer noted that L.A. County might apply to reopen under the state's phased variances, simply to have the option, though she does not believe the county qualifies yet.

5/13 Update: In an address today L.A. County Department of Public Health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer stated that while not final, it seems L.A. County will not seek to reopen under the state's county-by-county guidelines, instead opting to wait until the state pushes for a widespread relaunch of dine-in service. As we reported yesterday, California will at some point push to reopen restaurants statewide, though there has been no timeline revealed for this as of yet.

"Our best [path], I think, is to watch when the state feels like as a state this would be an activity that we could all engage in," Dr. Ferrer said. "And then we would have to make an assessment, depending on what our numbers look like, depending on what hospitalizations look like, depending on what deaths look like, as to whether or not that makes sense for all of us in L.A. County. But we do appreciate that the state has actually issued guidance for the restaurants so that they can be well aware of the kinds of modifications that will be required whenever it is safer for them to be able to reopen."

5/12 Update: Today Gov. Newsom released guidelines for relaunching dine-in restaurant service statewide, greatly and temporarily altering the way Californians will visit restaurants as their counties meet criteria for reopening. 

While Newsom did not mention timelines for when counties will individually enter into phase two—and while we still have no clear idea of L.A. County's own plans to move forward—on Thursday Mayor Eric Garcetti mentioned in his own address that L.A. County and City procedure will more or less remain in lockstep together, but differ from a number of statewide guidances. 

Our original story, which ran 5/7: Dining might not return in exactly the form we remember it, but the restaurant industry is already taking steps toward reopening across the country with practices such as capacity limits, reservation-only systems and outdoor eating in select states.

Here in California full-service dining is still outlawed, but according to a statement by Governor Gavin Newsom this afternoon, restaurants could reopen beyond takeout service as early as next week.

In the Q&A segment following his daily address, Gov. Newsom shared that next Tuesday, May 12, his office will release a set of guidelines for restaurant reopenings across California, and only once these regulations are individually met can restaurateurs and chefs begin serving patrons on premises.

Though we don’t know much beyond the release date of these new rules, it appears that individual counties will oversee restaurant compliance, meaning we might see rolling dates for dine-in relaunch, county by county.

“The likelihood of some counties meeting all the criteria, the variance, that Dr. Ghaly put forward—happening after we put out the dine-in guidelines next Tuesday—I think is very high in certain parts of the state,” Gov. Newsom said. “And so you can see—not in weeks, potentially—if some move quickly and work collaboratively with the state and with their county board of supervisors [and] their health directors, [if] they put the tracing and tracking [and] they put the surge plans together, [if] they have strategies to protect the most vulnerable and they have trigger plans and measurements that allow them to pull back, and they abide by these guidelines, and they prepare for them, we can see that happening in the next week or so.”

Gov. Newsom did not remark on the reopening of the bar industry, though L.A. County’s own guidelines state that bars and nightclubs will reopen as part of phase three of its own five-stage plan, though there’s been no statement on when that might begin; on Friday, a number of L.A. trails reopen as the county’s second stage begins. Statewide, retailers such as clothing stores, bookstores, florists and sporting-goods shops can begin to reopen tomorrow under guidance, as well.

We will update this story as more information—including the release of Gov. Newsom’s dine-in guidelines on Tuesday and any directives at the county and city level—become available.

This story originally ran with the headline "When will Los Angeles restaurants reopen? It could be sooner than you think." As Los Angeles County and City leadership began to separate itself from California's county guidances, we have updated the story and will continue to do so as directives are announced.

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