New restaurant rules to take effect in Pasadena, the only L.A. County city still open for dining

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Pasadena will continue allowing people to dine outdoors at restaurants in opposition to a Los Angeles County order, but the city will limit tables to a single household as of Wednesday as people flock to the city.

As of Tuesday, Pasadena was the only city in the county where people could still dine in at restaurants after L.A. County ordered restaurants to operate only for takeout and delivery as of Nov. 25.

The new restaurant restrictions are part of several taking effect in L.A. County amid a record-setting coronavirus surge, including a revised stay-home order.

Hospitalizations countywide reached a new peak Tuesday as the county reported its largest single-day increase in virus cases yet, close to 7,600. Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer called Tuesday L.A. County’s “worst day thus far” in the pandemic, adding that those to follow will likely be worse.

Pasadena has its own health department, which has allowed restaurants to stay open for outdoor dining. Over the weekend, people packed the city’s restaurants — leading to long wait times but also large earnings for the businesses.

“We have restauranteurs that have told us this past weekend was the biggest grossing weekend in months,” said city spokesperson Lisa Derderian. “It was their biggest Thanksgiving of people coming into their restaurant since they opened 20, 30 years ago.”

Due to the influx of visitors, modified restaurant rules will take effect at midnight Wednesday.

Dining will only be allowed for parties of no more than six people from the same household, and city officials say there will be more enforcement staff looking for violators.

Some question how the new guidelines will be enforced. Among those is Glendale resident Cat Moore, who dined out in Pasadena Tuesday night to celebrate her birthday.

“Someone’s going to come around and check? Like, ‘Is this really your brother?’” she asked.

City officials admit there’s really no way of enforcing the rule. 

“We’re not going to ask for identification,” Derderian said. “We don’t want restaurant staff to enforce that, because it wouldn’t be fair. This is more of a self-regulating, honor system.”

Last week, the city said it had shut down four restaurants after they failed to adhere to COVID-19 safety protocols.

Jack Huang, owner of Sorriso in Old Town Pasadena, told KTLA he’s already turned away reservations.

“We’re going to ask — politely ask,” he said. “We don’t want to profile these days.”

As COVID-19 cases continue to surge and the results of Thanksgiving spread still weeks away, Newsom has warned he’s considering another statewide stay-home order.

If any new state order restricts dining at restaurants, Pasadena will comply, according to Derderian.

Meanwhile, Beverly Hills hopes to join Pasadena in allowing outdoor dining. The Beverly Hills City Council voted Tuesday to oppose the L.A. County ban on dining and urge its reversal — saying it may go so far as to set up its own health department.

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