Los Angeles County bans OUTDOOR dining after business spent thousands to modify

Restaurants, bars, and other eateries in Los Angeles County are set to take another financial hit after health officials there imposed a three-week ban on in-person dining amid a spike in COVID-19 cases.

“To reduce the possibility for crowding and the potential for exposures in settings where people are not wearing their face coverings, restaurants, breweries, wineries and bars will only be able to offer take-out, drive thru, and delivery services,” officials announced Sunday.

“Wineries and breweries may continue their retail operations adhering to current protocols. In person dining will not be allowed, at minimum, for the next 3 weeks,” the announcement continued.

The new ban will take effect Wednesday at 10 p.m. local time.

“Last week, Los Angeles County established thresholds for additional actions if the five-day average of cases is 4,000 or more or hospitalizations are more than 1,750 per day, to restrict in-person dining at restaurants, breweries, wineries and bars,” the announcement said, adding that at present, the five-day average stands at 4,097.

If the number rises to 4,500 or more and hospitalizations increase to 2,000 or more per day, the county will issue a stay-at-home order.

“Public Health reminds everyone to stay home as much as possible for the next two to three weeks to change the trajectory of surging cases and save lives. COVID-19 can be unintentionally spread to other people unless we all practice the simple safety precautions that prevents spread,” the announcement said. “Virus transmission can be significantly reduced if we all keep distance from others who we don’t live with, always wear a face covering properly over our nose and mouth, and wash our hands frequently.”

In addition, retailers throughout California have begun to limit purchases of toilet paper, as the item once again becomes scarce around the state and throughout the country.

Nevertheless, retailers said that the supply chain is in better shape now than when the item became in short-supply earlier this year as lockdowns to stop the spread of the virus began.

“We put the limits on out of caution. The supply chain’s in a better position to handle this rush,” Kevin Curry, president of Albertsons’ Southern California division, told the Los Angeles Times.

The new order is liable to rankle many Los Angelenos, especially after Gov. Gavin Newsom was caught recently violating some of his own virus restrictions, including social distancing rules while dining in at the ritzy French Laundry restaurant in Napa Valley.

Newsom apologized, saying he made a “bad mistake” in attending a friend’s birthday dinner on Nov. 6. He also said the dinner was outside.

However, photos obtained by a local Fox affiliate showed Newsom and his wife sitting around a table, mask-free, indoors around a crowded table of 12 at the restaurant. A number of lobbyists were also in attendance.

“The persistent high number of cases requires additional safety measures that limit mixing in settings where people are not wearing masks. We hope individuals continue to support restaurants, breweries, and wineries by ordering for take-out or delivery,” public health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said.

“We also fervently hope every L.A. County resident supports all our businesses by following the Public Health directives that we know work to slow spread,” she added.

Still, people are voicing new concerns for restaurant owners who, they say, were already following strict guidelines just so they could keep their doors open.

“L.A. County’s #COVID19 messaging has been all over the place since the beginning, despite paying PR firms $3 million. They now announce a knockout blow to restaurants via a tweet, and provide zero supporting science backing the idea that outdoor dining is fueling the spread,” Emmy-winning FOXLA correspondent Bill Melugin noted on Twitter.

“L.A. County should reimburse every single one of these businesses that spent thousands making modifications to move outdoors and retrofit for safety. Maybe start with some of those fat county salaries? None of the people making the decisions have to worry about their livelihoods,” he added.

Others agreed.

Warning: Strong language

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Jon Dougherty

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