LA Ramps Up Stay-At-Home Restrictions With COVID Cases Climbing

Elected officials debate outdoor dining data


Starting today, and for at least the next three weeks, Los Angeles County will be under increased restrictions, as health officials warn that rising numbers of daily coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are a “serious cause for concern.”

In hopes of curbing the risk of transmission, a new health order issued over the weekend requests that people stay home as much as possible, and it sets reduced capacity limits for different sectors until at least Dec. 20. On Sunday, the Department of Public Health announced more than 5,000 new coronavirus cases and 16 new deaths. To date, L.A. County has seen almost 400,000 cases and 7,639 deaths caused by the virus.

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“With such a high amount of transmission in our community, gathering with individuals from outside your household, even outdoors, is not safe and puts everyone at risk because of the extended contact with others,” said Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.

All public and private gatherings and events with individuals not from the same household are prohibited, except for protests and faith-based services. Essential retail businesses are capped at 35 percent capacity, and nonessential retail like indoor malls are limited to 20 percent. 

Restaurants, bars, breweries, and wineries remain closed for in-person dining and drinking. They are permitted to open for pick-up and delivery, and breweries and wineries may remain open for retail sales at 20 percent occupancy.

Last week, the Board of Supervisors considered an emergency proposal to reverse its decision on restaurants and bars, but maintained restrictions on outdoor dining after a split vote. Business owners and elected officials around the county questioned if the data suggests the restrictions will help curb the spread of coronavirus. The L.A. City Council voted 11-3 to seek a repeal of the outdoor dining restrictions, arguing it will cause more owners to close for good, and demonstrators marched to Ferrer’s home on Sunday after county officials announced the new order over the weekend.

“It would be one thing if we had a new stimulus from the federal government so that we could help the restaurants and the people losing their paychecks, but we don’t,” Supervisor Janice Hahn said in a statement. “I don’t think we have the data to prove that outdoor dining is driving the recent surge in cases, nor do we have the data to assure us that this action will turn our case numbers around. I am also very worried that it will drive more people to indoor gathering.”

Earlier this month, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a month-long curfew for most of the state. That order mandates nonessential work stop between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.