Los Angeles County shuts down outdoor dining as COVID-19 surges

Tatang, a Filipino American restaurant in North Hollywood, California, is among the establishments that have to close its outdoor dining on Wednesday. | Contributed photo

Fil-Am restaurants forced to again shift under new measures 

FAMILIES in Los Angeles County looking to eat out on Thanksgiving will have to make new plans.

Starting Wednesday, November 25 at 10 p.m., outdoor dining at restaurants, breweries, wineries and bars will be suspended for the next three weeks amid a surge in COVID-19 cases.

These establishments will only be able to offer take-out, drive-thru and delivery services for the first time since May, when outdoor dining provisions were introduced.

The new restrictions, made on Sunday, November 22, came as the county marked nine new deaths and 2,718 additional infections of COVID-19. This brought the five-day average to 4,097 cases.

“The persistent high number of cases requires additional safety measures that limit mixing in settings where people are not wearing masks,” County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement on Sunday.

County public health officials previously set the threshold to take additional action if the five-day average of cases is 4,000 or more or hospitalizations are more than 1,750 per day.

If the five-day average of cases is 4,500 or more or hospitalizations are more than 2,000 per day, officials warned that a targeted safer at home order will be issued for three weeks.

Last Friday, November 20, the county’s curfew took effect, limiting nonessential activities from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Restaurants and other establishments serving food were forced to reduce outdoor dining to 50% capacity before Sunday’s announcement to shutter outdoor service altogether.

“We hope individuals continue to support restaurants, breweries and wineries by ordering for take-out or delivery,” Ferrer added in her statement. “We also fervently hope every LA County resident supports all our businesses by following the Public Health directives that we know work to slow spread.”

As the ongoing pandemic continues and the holiday season approaches, this comes another roadblock to the restaurant and hospitality industry, which has seen closures and other challenges since March.

 

Spoon and Pork, a Fil-Am restaurant in Silver Lake, posted on Instagram that the announcement is a “huge blow to our industry which is already failing.”

For Charina Vergara, owner of Titas of Manila in West Covina, outdoor dining was an added source of income, and she invested in safety measures without raising prices.

“I feel sad, frustrated and anxious about it. But I am all for it because life matters most. I am more frightened now for our health and safety now than in March,” Vergara told the Asian Journal, adding, “We are fighting hard to keep our doors open.”

Hand sanitizer station at Titas of Manila in West Covina | Contributed photo

While businesses are forced to shift again, Vergara is advising the community to keep supporting restaurants like hers and to be more patient.

“If people can be more kind, patient and understanding…and if they follow the protocols to keep us all safe — these are the things that our community can do to help businesses like us stay open,” she said.

To date, Public Health has identified 364,520 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of LA County and a total of 7,438 deaths.

Meanwhile, the state of California introduced its own limited stay-at-home order, mandating nonessential work, movement and gatherings to stop between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. in counties in the purple tier, the most restrictive level in the state’s reopening plan.

The curfew, which began Saturday, applies to 41 of the 58 counties, where around 94% of Californians live. These include Sacramento, Fresno, Ventura, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside and San Diego.

The state’s order will remain in effect until 5 a.m. December 21.

Christina M. Oriel
Christina M. Oriel

Christina M. Oriel is the Managing Editor of the Asian Journal Weekly Newspapers.

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