Looking to combat a COVID-19 surge, Los Angeles County announced tightened restrictions today, requiring restaurants, bars wineries, breweries and non-essential retail businesses to close at 10 p.m. starting on Friday, while also limiting their capacity and that of indoor retail shops.
While short of a full-on lockdown, county officials warned that if case numbers and hospitalizations continue increasing, sweeping "Safer At Home" restrictions will return and a countywide 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew will be imposed.
The new limits on hours of operation and occupancy come at a time when many retailers and restaurants get a huge boost from holiday gift-giving and celebrations.
The county has yet to issue the final set of orders. But for now, restrictions set to take effect Friday are:
- Indoor "non-essential" businesses such as retail stores, offices and personal care services will be limited to 25% occupancy;
- Outdoor service at restaurants, wineries and breweries will be limited to 50% of the maximum outdoor capacity;
- Outdoor cardrooms, miniature golf sites, go-kart tracks and batting cages will be limited to 50% 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;
- Restaurants, wineries, breweries and non-essential retail businesses must be closed between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. However, it's not clear at this point if take-out can still be offered, the L.A. Times notes.
- Outdoor gatherings must be limited to no more than 15 people from a maximum of three households.
The county previously issued guidance limiting gatherings to three households, but there was no numerical limit on attendees.
The changes come amid a surge in COVID-19 that saw daily case numbers exceed 2,000 most of last week before topping 3,000 on Saturday and Sunday.
As of today, the county's five-day average of daily new cases was 2,884, while there were 1,126 people hospitalized. According to the county, if the five-day average of new cases reaches 4,000, or if hospitalizations top 1,750, outdoor dining at restaurants, breweries and wineries will end, with the businesses restricted to pick-up and delivery service only.
If the five-day case average reaches 4,500 or more, or if hospitalizations top 2,000 per day, the county will re-implement its original Safer At Home order for three weeks, allowing only essential workers to leave their homes, or residents seeking out essential services. The county at that point would also issue a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew, with only essential workers exempted.
"Los Angeles County is at a critical moment to save lives and curb the spread of COVID-19," county public health director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. "I urge our residents, businesses and community leaders to heed this warning and follow these heightened safeguards so that additional restrictions do not need to be imposed.
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