Mayor Garcetti announces ‘L.A. Al Fresco’ program to help restaurants open for outdoor dining

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Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the L.A. Al Fresco program Friday, to help restaurants provide outdoor dining on sidewalks and private parking lots.

The initiative aims to help businesses throughout the city reopen while maintaining physical distance guidelines by temporarily relaxing the rules that regulate outdoor dining. Eligible restaurants will receive streamlined, immediate approval.

“Through L.A. Al Fresco, the city will offer temporary, no-cost allowances for restaurants to provide outdoor dining on sidewalks and private parking lots, and the program may expand to streets in the future,” mayor Garcetti said during his news briefing Friday.

The program will be available to all restaurants in the city, and applications are open online.

The announcement comes after L.A. County received state permission to reopen restaurants for in-person dining, along with barbershops and hair salons. The businesses can reopen as soon as they can meet public safety guidelines.

The city of L.A. released guidelines for restaurants that say they are permitted to provide dine-in service with a limited capacity of 60% occupancy, mirroring the county’s guidelines. Bar areas are still closed.

Bars that serve food can stay open for takeout orders only, and those that do not serve food are not permitted to open.

Earlier this week, the California Department of Public Health released guidance for hair salons and barbershops to reopen for all services except those that don’t allow for both the customers and employees to wear face coverings, like facials and some waxing. In L.A., stylists may serve one client at a time.

Office-based businesses may also reopen if telework is not possible, and they must implement county public health protocols. If office workers can continue to work remotely, they should, Garcetti said.

On Wednesday, all retail businesses in the city of L.A. were allowed to reopen for in-person shopping and houses of worship were permitted to resume services, both at limited capacity and as long as they follow proper safety laws.

All businesses are required to follow county health protocols, available online.

Densely-populated L.A. County remains the epicenter of the pandemic in California with 51,562 reported coronavirus cases and 2,290 deaths as of Friday. That’s half the state’s cases and deaths in a region home to only about a quarter of the population.

“It is still here and it is still is dangerous and Angelenos are still dying from COVID-19, each day,” Garcetti said. “We’re learning how to live safer, work safer, shop safer. We’re learning that it doesn’t take government to tell us to know we should stay at home whenever we can because it’s safer there.”

He added, however, that the condition is improving.

“This week we had a 20% reduction in deaths from last week. The last time we had this level of deaths was six weeks ago,” the mayor said. “I know it’s not easy for anybody who’s lost someone this week, but it is good news.”

Throughout L.A. County, 516,000 people have so far been tested for the virus at 36 testing locations, which have a capacity to reach 20,000 people a day, the mayor said. The newest and largest location is at Dodger Stadium.

“In our testing centers, we have the lowest positive rate for our tests since we started testing,” Garcetti said Friday, adding that the rate is at about 4.5%.

Some parking enforcement regulations that the mayor previously relaxed were set to be lifted on June 1, but were further extended to July 1, the mayor said Friday.

The city stopped ticketing people during street sweeping in residential areas and towing abandoned vehicles in order to accommodate for the stay-at-home orders that left residents hunkered down at home.

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