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LA County To Shut Down All Restaurant Dining Amid COVID-19 Surge

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Beginning Wednesday, restaurants will be ordered to close all outdoor dining for three weeks as coronavirus cases continue to stack.

As COVID-19 cases continue to surge across Los Angeles County, officials announced Sunday that all dining at restaurants and bars would be prohibited for three weeks beginning Wednesday. Eateries will only be allowed to remain open for takeout, drive-thru, and delivery services.

The new order will begin Wednesday at 10 p.m. and will restrict restaurants from serving diners in person for the first time since May.

County officials warned last week that if the five-day average broke 4,000 or if hospitalizations surpassed 1,750 per day, all sit-down dining would be halted. Sunday, the recent spike in cases brought the five-day average to more than 4,097 cases.

Public health officials said they were halting sit-down dining operations “to reduce the possibility for crowding and the potential for exposures in settings where people are not wearing their face coverings.”

Wineries and breweries may continue with retail operations, but in-person dining will be placed on pause for at least three weeks, officials wrote in a statement Sunday.

And if cases continue to stack, county officials warned that a Targeted Safer at Home Order would also be issued for three weeks if the five-day average breaks 4,500 or hospitalizations reach 2,000 per day.

The order would “offer additional restrictions while allowing essential and emergency workers and those securing essential services to leave their homes.”

The news comes during a weekend in which California added a record high of 15,442 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, coinciding with the state’s new stay-at-home order, which includes an overnight curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 p.m. in purple tier counties.

On Sunday alone, the LA County Department of Public Health reported 2,718 new cases of coronavirus and nine additional deaths, bringing the county’s totals to 364,520 cases and 7,438 fatalities. The previous three days had each seen more than 4,000 cases reported, including a single-day record of 5,031 cases on Thursday.

The number of county residents hospitalized with the virus increased from 1,391 Saturday to 1,401, with 26 percent in intensive care. That’s more than double the daily number at the beginning of October when it was under 700.

LA public health officials urged Angelenos to stay home as much as possible for the next several weeks to change the trajectory of surging cases and reiterated that Californians should avoid travel during the Thanksgiving holiday week.

“As we modify our Thanksgiving holiday celebrations, we are reminded of the many families who will miss their loved ones who have passed away from COVID-19. We send wishes for healing and peace,” County Health Director Barbara Ferrer said.

“The persistently 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. 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 the spread. Unfortunately, if our cases and hospitalizations continue to increase, we will need to issue further restrictions to protect our healthcare system and prevent more deaths.”

Other restrictions that took effect Friday were:

  • indoor “non-essential” businesses such as retail stores, offices, and personal care services will be limited to 25 percent occupancy.
  • outdoor cardrooms, miniature golf sites, go-kart tracks, and batting cages will be limited to 50 percent of maximum outdoor capacity.
  • customers at personal-care businesses must make advance appointments, and no services that require customers to remove their face masks can be offered.
  • outdoor gatherings must be limited to no more than 15 people from a maximum of three households.
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