Bars reopen, restaurants increase capacity: Here’s what changes with L.A. County’s move to orange tier Monday

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With Los Angeles County continuing to mark improvements in coronavirus case rates, the region loosened more restrictions on businesses Monday.

The state last week cleared the county to move to the orange tier, a less restrictive stage in California’s four-tier, color-coded reopening plan.

“Our numbers have improved dramatically, but we cannot let up,” county Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Friday in a statement. “While we are making good progress with vaccination efforts, we have about a dozen more weeks before we can expect to reach 80% vaccine coverage for people 16 and older.”

A move to the orange tier allows previously shuttered bars to reopen outdoors and lets several other businesses welcome back more customers.

The changes went into effect on Monday in L.A. County. Here’s what will be different:

Bars that do not provide meals: They will be allowed to open outdoors only, but with customers’ visits limited to 90 minutes and no counter seating allowed. The bars must also close for onsite consumption after 10 p.m.

Masks are required except when people are eating or drinking, and people can only be doing that when they are seated. Tables have to be placed 8 feet apart, with a maximum of six people sitting together from up to three different households. The bars can have no live entertainment, and televisions are permitted outdoors only.

Breweries, wineries and distilleries that don’t serve meals: Previously only allowed to operate outdoors, the venues will also be able to open indoors at 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer. But they must also close for onsite consumption after 10 p.m.

For indoor seating, reservations are required and a maximum of six people are allowed per table, all from the same household. Live entertainment and television viewing is not allowed indoors.

For outdoor seating, a maximum of six people can sit together from up to three different households.

Tables have to placed 8 feet apart, and again, no counter seating is allowed. Masks are required except when people are eating or drinking.

Restaurants: They can increase indoor dining capacity to 50% or 200 people, whichever is less.

Fitness centers: They can increase indoors capacity from 10% to 25%, and indoor pools can reopen. Masks are always required unless swimming.

Card rooms: They can operate indoors at 25% capacity, but there must be 8 feet of distancing between tables and masks are required at all times. Food and beverages remain banned from card tables.

Movie theaters: Can increase capacity from 25% to 50%, or 200 people, whichever is less. Seats still have to be reserved, and each group must be 6 feet away from others in all directions. Eating is allowed in only designated areas or in reserved seats.

Grocery and retail stores: Can increase capacity to 75%, but the health department “strongly recommends” that grocery stores remain at 50% capacity until April 15 to allow as many of their workers to get vaccinated as possible.

Hair Salons, barbershops and personal care services: They can increase capacity to 75% with masks required, except for services where customers need to remove their masks. For services where customers must remove their face coverings, staff must wear fitted N95 masks and goggles or masks with face shields.

Museums, zoos and aquariums: Previously only allowed an indoor capacity of 25%, can be open indoors at increased 50% capacity.

Places of worship: They can hold services indoors at 50% capacity.

Family entertainment centers: Can open indoors at 25% capacity for activities like bowling or escape rooms.

Youth and adult recreational sports: Can apply to the L.A. County Department of Public Health for approval for athletic events, tournaments or competitions that involve more than two teams or multiple individuals.

On Monday, Ferrer again urged residents to follow infection control measures as restrictions as relaxed.

“As we’ve seen in past reopenings, and increasing capacity limits, if we’re not careful, this can lead to an increase in cases,” Ferrer said Monday.

Ferrer said L.A. County will likely stay in the orange tier for about three weeks before being able to move to the least restrictive yellow tier, if case numbers continue to decline.

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