With coronavirus infection numbers skyrocketing at an unprecedented rate, Los Angeles County residents and businesses face new restrictions that go into effect Friday.
Health officials aim to crack down on crowding to reduce virus transmission in settings where people might not be wearing face masks. That includes limiting the number of people dining outdoors or visiting family entertainment centers, as well as restricting hours of operation.
The county on Thursday reported more than 5,000 new coronavirus cases— the highest number on record so far. L.A. County is experiencing a “dangerous acceleration of cases that is increasing at a higher rate than the July surge,” L.A. County Department of Public Health officials said.
“Right now, the kindest thing we can do for our family, friends and neighbors is to protect each other from potentially becoming infected with COVID-19,” county Health Director Barbara Ferrer said. “As cases are surging and hospitalizations are increasing, we need to stay home as much as possible, protect those who are elderly or have underlying health conditions, and stop gathering with people not in our households.”
Here’s what changes starting Friday:
- Private outdoor gatherings can only include 15 people who are from no more than 3 households, including the household hosting.
- Restaurants, breweries, wineries, bars and “all other non-essential retail establishments” must close from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. (But they can still offer pick-up and delivery services overnight.)
- Restaurants, breweries, wineries, cardrooms, outdoor mini-golf, go-karts and batting cages must limit their outdoor capacity to 50% maximum.
- Non-essential businesses that were allowed to operate indoors (including retail stores, offices and personal care services) will be limited to 25% of the maximum occupancy allowed.
- Personal care establishments can only provide services by appointment to customers wearing face coverings. Staff should also be wearing face coverings and they can’t be providing services that requite the removal of the mask, like facials.
If L.A. County’s coronavirus infection and hospitalization numbers worsen, there could be more orders, officials warned. Here are the conditions and restrictions:
- If the five-day average of cases is 4,000 or more, or if hospitalizations surpass 1,750 per day: all outdoor and indoor dining at restaurants, breweries, wineries and bars will be prohibited and they will only be able to offer pick-up and delivery services.
- If the five-day average of cases reaches 4,500 or more, or hospitalizations are more than 2,000 per day: a Safer-at-Home order will be mandated for three weeks, only allowing essential and emergency workers and those securing essential services to leave their homes. A 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew would also be mandated.
L.A. County Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis on Thursday said the county might face a new order by Sunday if case numbers keep rising.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has already issued a statewide a “limited” but mandatory stay-at-home order and overnight curfew for L.A. County and other counties in the purple tier, the most-restrictive phase of the state’s four-tier reopening plan.
Starting this Saturday night, non-essential work, movement and gatherings will be prohibited between the hours of 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily. The order will last a month and is set to expire at 5 a.m. on Dec. 21, but it could be extended as needed.
Grocery and drug stores can remain open after hours, restaurants will also be allowed to offer takeout after 10 p.m. and residents can still walk their dogs outside, officials said.