With coronavirus surging, bars and indoor dining could remain closed for the foreseeable future

California
A waiter takes orders from a dine-in group in downtown Los Angeles on June 6. Indoor restaurants were ordered shut in L.A. County on July 1. (Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times)

A waiter takes orders from a dine-in group in downtown Los Angeles on June 6. Indoor restaurants were ordered shut in L.A. County on July 1. (Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times)

With coronavirus cases surging in California, there are growing doubts that indoor dining and bar service will reopen anytime soon as health officials zero-in on how to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Public health officials say indoor dining and drinking pose more significant public health risks than other retail activities, even with social distancing. Patrons must take off their masks to eat and drink, they often are engaged in conversation and breathe in indoor air that may be contaminated by the virus and get circulated by air conditioning — all of which can spread COVID-19.

Restaurants are the lifeblood of the retail economy in many cities, and the reopening of dine-in service followed by the abrupt closures have left the already struggling bar and restaurant industry devastated.

But experts and local, state and federal officials have said in recent days that it’s simply too risky for bars and indoor dining rooms to continue operating as the coronavirus surges. Allowing them to operate as cases spike threatens the wider reopening of the economy and the resumption of school in the fall, they said, and also threatens to overwhelm hospitals.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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