L.A. County considering permanent options for outdoor dining

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Los Angeles County officials are considering options to keep outdoor dining beyond the coronavirus-related regulatory relief.

As the pandemic took hold and restrictions limited capacity at restaurants last year, bars and restaurants expanded onto sidewalks, streets and parking lots as many struggled to stay afloat amid ever-changing restrictions.

While most coronavirus-related restrictions are expected to end June 15 in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced last week that expanded outdoor dining is getting a temporary reprieve through at least the end of the year.

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors this week approved two motions to support bars and restaurants, including one that asks for guidelines for expanded outdoor dining options, including on public sidewalks, alleys, right-of ways and parking lots.

The motion also develops a plan to transition certain restaurants into a permanent outdoor dining program and identify new locations for outdoor dining.

“We should make every effort to ensure this program becomes a permanent option for eateries throughout the region,” Supervisor Kathryn Barger said in a statement. “This is a valuable resource for the restaurant and hospitality industry, which was devastatingly impacted by the COVID-19 closures.”

The other motion would streamline alcohol sales by giving businesses a one-year grace period after the emergency order is lifted to apply for a permanent expansion of their license.

Newsom also announced last week that California will keep in place a measure allowing to-go alcohol sales, which helped restaurants and bars survive amid the closures.

“California’s restaurants help create the vibrant and diverse communities that make California the envy of the world. As the state turns to post-pandemic life, we’ll continue to adapt best practices that have helped businesses transform customer experience for the better,” Newsom said in a statement.

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