LA bans in-person dining for three weeks amid a surge in COVID cases

Los Angeles County on Sunday banned in-person dining for three weeks amid a surge in coronavirus cases less than 24 hours after they imposed a 10pm curfew. 

The order will take effect Wednesday at 10pm, officials said. Restaurants, breweries, wineries and bars will only be able to offer takeout, drive-thru and delivery services.

Officials said: ‘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.

‘Wineries and breweries may continue their retail operations adhering to current protocols. In person dining will not be allowed, at minimum, for the next 3 weeks.’ 

The new restrictions in Los Angeles County — the nation’s most populous — came as the California Department of Health and Human Services reported more than 15,000 coronavirus cases statewide Saturday — by far the highest level since the pandemic began in March. Another 14,000 cases were recorded Sunday. 

Authorities said Saturday that coronavirus cases threaten to swamp health care systems in California.  Los Angeles County, the state’s largest county, had already warned that an even more drastic lockdown could be imminent.    

Diners are served outside by a waiter wearing a mask, face shield and rubber gloves, Wednesday, November 18 in the West Hollywood area of Los Angeles. Los Angeles County imposed new restrictions on businesses Sunday 

The county accounts for a quarter of the state’s 40 million residents, but it has about a third of the coronavirus cases and close to 40% of the deaths. 

Officials had warned that these restrictions could come if the county’s five-day average of new cases was above 4,000 or hospitalizations were more than 1,750 per day. Sunday’s five-day average was 4,097 cases and there were 1,401 hospitalizations. 

County public health Director Barbara Ferrer said Friday that the county had 4,272 new cases in a single day and 13,247 over the past three days. The rate of positive COVID-19 tests has jumped to 7.3%, and nearly 1,300 people have been hospitalized. 

Restrictions announced Saturday across California had required people to stay home from 10pm to 5am unless they are responding to an emergency, shopping for groceries, picking up takeout or walking their dogs. 

As Covid-19 cases reach record numbers in the U.S. and California, hundreds gather at the pier and Pacific Coast Highway to protest Saturday against a state mandated curfew of 10pm

As Covid-19 cases reach record numbers in the U.S. and California, hundreds gather at the pier and Pacific Coast Highway to protest Saturday against a state mandated curfew of 10pm

Authorities say the focus is on keeping people from social mixing and drinking — the kinds of activities that are blamed for causing COVID-19 infections to soar after dipping only a few months ago.

California as a whole has seen more than 1 million infections, with a record of almost 15,500 new cases reported Friday. 

Officials hope to avoid full-on lockdown orders of the kind enacted back when the COVID-19 pandemic was gaining steam in March. 

Public health officials since then have reacted to swings in infection rates by easing and then reinforcing various stay-at-home orders in an effort to balance safety and the economy.

The result, however, has been confusion and what some health officials term ‘COVID fatigue’ in which people simply become tired of the rules and let down their guard.  

California’s average daily number of coronavirus cases has tripled in the last month, the Los Angeles Times found in an analysis, while COVID-19 hospitalizations have doubled in the same time period.    

The state curfew applies to 41 of the state’s 58 counties that are in the ‘purple’ tier, the most restrictive of four tiers allowing various stages of economic reopening. Those counties encompass 94% of the nearly 40 million people living in the most populous U.S. state.

Sabrina Urias, general manager of Old Wagon Saloon & Grill in downtown San Jose, told The San Francisco Chronicle that the curfew will likely affect the business’s busiest hours in the late evening.

‘We’re here every day. We see people breaking these rules, and we’re trying our best to enforce it. We see people not wearing a mask,’ she said. 

‘So unless you deal with (the) public, you won’t understand this. It’s frustrating for us — our hours got cut. But if everybody would just follow the rules that are given to us for ourselves and our family, customers and everything, I truly believe that there will be a better outcome.’

A group gathered in Huntington Beach at 10:01 p.m. Saturday night in defiance of the curfew, waving American flags and not wearing masks. More than 100 people rallied Saturday in downtown Fresno, urging Gov. Gavin Newsom to ‘open California safely.’

San Francisco’s coronavirus figures could push it into the purple tier as early as Sunday.


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