L.A. County issues new restrictions
Ban on most public and private gatherings is less strict than the springtime shutdown.
As the number of new coronavirus cases continued to rise in Los Angeles County, health officials issued a temporary and limited stay-at-home order Friday that will take effect Monday.
The restrictions, which will last for three weeks, are not as severe as those imposed in the spring.
“Residents are advised to stay home as much as possible and always wear a face covering over their nose and mouth when they are outside their household and around others,” the Department of Public Health said.
The order prohibits all public and private gatherings with individuals not in the same household, except for religious services and protests.
It imposes new occupancy limits on businesses, such as personal care and retail, but does not close them. Beaches, trails and parks will remain open, but gatherings of people from more than one household at those sites are banned.
The announcement came just two days after restaurants in much of L.A. County were ordered to suspend outdoor dining. That decision sparked a backlash from restaurant owners and some elected officials, who called the rules too punishing for the already struggling industry. Officials had warned new restrictions were coming.
The five-day average of new cases hit 4,751 Friday, crossing the threshold the county had set for imposition of a modified stay-at-home order.
Officials are concerned that hospitals could see a shortage of beds — especially in intensive care units — over the next two to four weeks if these trends continue. But hospitals are better equipped now than they were in the spring to handle a surge in cases, treatment for COVID-19 has significantly improved, and hospitals can cancel elective surgeries to make more room.
Countywide COVID-19 hospitalizations have already more than doubled in just three weeks, from about 800 on Halloween to nearly 1,900 Friday.
At Skylight Books in Los Feliz, events manager Madeline Gobbo said the county’s new capacity limits would not make a difference because the shop allows only 10 customers at a time to browse the aisles.
Author events have gone virtual, and the store is doing a good online business. Still, since reopening, Skylight has enjoyed “a steady stream of customers every day, all day,” she said. “If people stay at home and stop coming out to shop, that will be bad news for us.”
County authorities, Gobbo added, are giving mixed messages. “Telling people to stay home but then also telling them to keep supporting small businesses — that’s kind of a Catch-22.”
At Monsieur Marcel Gourmet Market and Restaurant in the Original Farmers Market, owner Stephane Strouk said cutting shop capacity to 35% will mean longer customer waits but probably would not hurt his market business, which is a bit better than it was before the pandemic began.
But it was a major blow when he had to close the restaurant’s dining patio this week. He kept some cooks to prepare takeout dishes but had to let go waiters, busboys and dishwashers — 16 employees in all.
Diners, his operation’s biggest source of revenue, had been gradually returning to the French restaurant. “We did everything we could” to maintain safety protocols, Strouk said, adding that he didn’t think the county-ordered restaurant closings were justified. “It’s touching so many people.”
The new order, which will remain in effect through Dec. 20, sets the following occupancy limits:
The order does not change reopening protocols for schools and day camps.