L.A. County to halt outdoor dining as cases surge

California

Los Angeles County announced Sunday it is halting dining at restaurants, breweries, wineries and bars starting Wednesday amid an unprecedented surge in coronavirus cases.

County officials had earlier warned that if the five-day average number of coronavirus cases is 4,000 or more, or if hospitalizations surpass 1,750 per day, all outdoor and indoor dining at restaurants, breweries, wineries and bars will be prohibited, the L.A. County Department of Public Health said.

The five-day average reached 4,097 Sunday.

“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,” the health department said.

Wineries and breweries may continue their retail operations.

“In person dining will not be allowed, at minimum, for the next 3 weeks,” health officials said.

The modified order will take effect Wednesday, Nov. 25 at 10 p.m.

“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,” the department said.

Since the county is in the purple tier, the most-restrictive phase of the state’s four-tier reopening plan, indoor dining wasn’t allowed and people were only allowed to eat outdoors at restaurants —many of which had expanded onto sidewalks and bought or rented tents and canopies to comply with the rules.

If L.A. County’s coronavirus infection and hospitalization numbers worsen, there could be more orders, officials warned.

If the five-day average of cases reaches 4,500 or more, or hospitalizations are more than 2,000 per day: a Safer-at-Home order will be mandated for three weeks, only allowing essential and emergency workers and those securing essential services to leave their homes. A 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew would also be mandated.

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

L.A. County reported 9 new COVID-19, deaths and another 2,718 coronavirus cases Sunday, bringing the countywide total to 364,520 cases with 7,438 deaths.

The county recorded a whopping 5,031 new coronavirus cases on Thursday — a new record.

Grappling with a surge in daily infection numbers that’s accelerating faster than ever before, L.A. County also implemented more restrictions on Friday. They included limiting the number of patrons at restaurants and family entertainment centers, as well as restricting hours of operation.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has issued a statewide a “limited” but mandatory stay-at-home order and overnight curfew for L.A. County and other counties in the purple tier. It went into effect Saturday.

Non-essential work, movement and gatherings are prohibited between the hours of 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily. The order will last a month and is set to expire at 5 a.m. on Dec. 21, but it could be extended as needed.

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