L.A. County to tighten COVID-19 restrictions, effective Friday

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Los Angeles County officials announced Tuesday a tightening of pandemic safeguards and restrictions — including the mandatory closure of all non-essential businesses between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. — as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to rise.

The health officer order is expected to be amended and, effective Friday, the following restrictions are to be made official:

  • For non-essential businesses permitted to operate indoors, including retail stores, offices and personal care services, occupancy will be limited to 25% maximum capacity.
  • The number of patrons at outdoor restaurants, breweries and wineries will be limited to 50% maximum outdoor capacity.
  • The number of customers at cardrooms, outdoor mini-golf, go-karts and batting cages will be limited to 50% maximum outdoor capacity.
  • Services at personal care establishments may only be provided by appointment to customers wearing face coverings by staff wearing face coverings.
    • Services that require either the customer or the staff to remove their face covering, such as facials and shaves, are not permitted.
    • Food and drinks cannot be served at these establishments to customers.
  • Restaurants, breweries, wineries, bars and all other non-essential retail establishments must close from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • Outdoor gatherings remain the only gatherings permitted, and they must only include 15 people maximum who are members of no more than three households.

These new restrictions come as COVID-19 cases have more than doubled since the beginning of November and hospitalizations have increased from an average of about 900 a day to more than 1,000 a day in the same time period, according to county Department of Public Health officials.

“Los Angeles County is at a critical moment to save lives and curb the spread of COVID-19. 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,” Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a prepared statement. “We are so grateful that many of our residents are wearing face coverings, keeping physically distanced and avoiding gathering with people they don’t live with, but we need everyone to do their part and follow these measures. Lives and livelihoods are at stake and our entire community will be affected by our collective action if we do the right thing.”

On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a rollback on reopening in 37 counties due to the alarming growth in COVID-19 cases. The governor also announced new, statewide guidelines ordering individuals to wear face masks whenever leaving their homes, guidelines Los Angeles County has had in place since April. 

Because the county continues to anticipate the potential for a continued surge in cases and hospitalizations, officials have established thresholds for additional actions if these metrics continue to increase.

Currently, L.A. County is reporting a five-day average of 2,884 cases per day and 1,126 hospitalized patients, but if that five-day average becomes 4,000 or more, or hospitalizations reach more than 1,750 per day, the county is expected to revise the health officer order to prohibit outdoor and indoor dining at restaurants, breweries, wineries and bars, with these businesses only able to offer pickup and delivery. 

Businesses in this sector are expected to be notified via email by Public Health officials, who are set to work with them to ensure a smooth transition.

Then, if the five-day average of cases in the county reaches 4,500 or more or hospitalizations are more than 2,000 per day, a “Safer at Home” order is expected to be instituted for three weeks, which would only allow essential workers and those securing essential services to leave their homes, along with mandating a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew, with essential workers exempt.

This is a breaking news story, and will be updated as more information becomes available.

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