Outdoor dining resumes, updated order restricts television use

Restaurant guests enjoy an outdoor dining experience at Olive Terrace in Valencia Monday afternoon. November 23, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal.

The health officer order was updated to allow outdoor dining in restaurants Friday with the requirements of six people to a table, social distancing between parties and no television to broadcast sports or other programs.

After Gov. Gavin Newsom lifted the regional stay-at-home order for Southern California, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health allowed outdoor dining to resume after the county saw a decrease in daily COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

“We all want our restaurants and small businesses to remain open, and the way to do that is for everyone to follow all of the public health directives all of the time,” said Muntu Davis, L.A. County health officer, during a press briefing Friday. 

The directives restaurants, breweries and wineries are being required to follow are:

  • Mandatory face masks and face shields for all employees who come into contact with customers.
  • Dining tables must be limited to six people per table.
  • Tables must be positioned 8 feet apart.
  • Televisions and other screens that broadcast sports or other programming must be turned off.

The decision to restrict television viewing comes before the National Football League’s annual Super Bowl on Feb. 7, an event many people gather to watch at home or in restaurants and bars.

“Super Bowl Sunday should be a virtual get-together, just like (how) many of you celebrated the holidays,” Davis said. “It would be tragic if this year’s Super Bowl becomes a super-spreader event.”

Davis added the reasoning behind restricting television before the major sporting event is to help mitigate community transmission, saying since people usually cheer and shout during sporting events, the virus can be easily transmissible. 

Local restaurant owner Teri Ledesma said her restaurant wasn’t planning to bring in televisions, but it’s an unfortunate order for those who intended on broadcasting sports once reopened.

“Since people can’t come to the restaurant to watch (sports) they’ll gather at their homes instead, which isn’t safe either,” said Ledesma, who owns Schooners Patio Grille. “At least if they come to a restaurant there are regulations that need to be followed.”

Ledesma said the restrictions on occupancy already dismiss the opportunity for people to gather in large numbers, and people will still be able to watch the game at restaurants on cell phones.

Davis asked for the community to remain cautious as sectors reopen and daily case counts and hospitalizations remain high. He added if there is an increase in hospitalizations restrictions can be reimposed.

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