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Volume XI, Number 25

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Los Angeles County Restricts In-Person Dining Due to Surge in COVID-19 Cases

Due to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (“L.A. Public Health”) announced that all outdoor and indoor dining at restaurants, breweries and wineries will be restricted, effective November 25, 2020 at 10:00 p.m., while take-out, drive thru, and delivery services may continue (“Order”).

Just last week, L.A. Public Health announced that, effective November 20, 2020 all restaurants, breweries and wineries must limit outdoor capacity to 50%. However, officials advised that if the five-day average of cases reaches 4,000 or hospitalization are more than 1,750 per day, L.A. Public Health will prohibit all dining at restaurants, breweries and wineries. As of November 22, 2020, the L.A. Public Health officials confirmed that the five-day average of COVID-19 cases reached 4,097, with a total of 364,520 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of Los Angeles County and a total of 7,438 deaths[1], which forced L.A. Public Health to implement the recent shutdown of all in person dining in Los Angeles County.

The recent Order is a disappointing setback for restaurant owners who have been struggling during the ongoing pandemic. Restaurant owners started adapting to COVID-19 restrictions by providing its customers with a creative outdoor dining experience as a means to continue its operations however, now those efforts must come to a halt.

In addition to the restrictions on restaurant operations, other orders that went into effect in Los Angeles County on Friday, November 20, 2020[2], in addition to the restrictions placed by California are as follows:

  • Private outdoor gatherings may only include 15 people with a maximum of 3 households

  • All non-essential retail establishments must close from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.

  • Retail stores, offices, personal care services and other “non-essential” businesses permitted to operate indoors will be limited to a 25% maximum occupancy

  • Services at personal care establishments may only be provided by appointment to customers wearing masks. Services that require a customer or staff to remove their face covering are not permitted

  • Cardrooms, outdoor miniature-golf, go-karts and batting cages must be limited to 50% maximum outdoor capacity

L.A. Public Health announced that if the five-day average of cases increases to 4,500 or more or hospitalizations are more than 2,000 per day, a “Targeted Safer at Home Order” will be issued for three weeks.

In an effort to prevent the increase in COVID-19 cases, every county in California has been assigned to a color tier which provides specific guidelines on how businesses can operate based on the number of new cases per day (per 100,000 residents) and the positivity rate (number of positive test results compared to all tests administered) in such county. However, counties are allowed to implement stricter guidelines than those ordered by the state.

California Governor Newsom recently ordered many counties such as Orange, Ventura, Alameda, and Santa Clara[3] to move back to the “purple tier” in California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, which is the most restrictive tier prohibiting many non-essential indoor business operations. Counties such as Los Angeles and Riverside have remained in the purple tier. The status of orders by county can be found here.

Counties in the “purple tier” must follow the following guidelines:

  • Private outdoor gatherings must be limited to a maximum of 3 households

  • Restaurants, gyms, fitness facilities, cardrooms, museums can open outdoors only with modification

  • Retail establishments can open with 25% percent occupancy, with common areas and food courts closed

  • Personal care services, hair salons and barbershops may open indoors with modification

Further, all counties in the “purple tier”, must follow the statewide curfew which came into effect on Saturday, November 21, 2020, prohibiting all “nonessential work, movement and gatherings” between the hours of 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m.

We will continue to monitor the orders put in place by public health officials and keep you informed. As you are aware, things are changing quickly and the aid measures and interpretations described here may change and are subject to wide interpretations.  This article represents our best understanding and interpretation based on where things currently stand and is not intended to address all potential legal risks or to be a definitive statement of law.

FOOTNOTES

[1] Department of Public Health – Los Angeles County Health Officer Order issued November 18, 2020 http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/phcommon/public/media/mediapubhpdetail....

[2] Department of Public Health – Los Angeles County Health Officer Order issued November 22, 2020 http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/phcommon/public/media/mediapubhpdetail....

[3] Full list of counties in the purple tier can be found here: https://www.gov.ca.gov/2020/11/16/governor-newsom-announces-new-immediat...

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Copyright © 2020, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP.National Law Review, Volume X, Number 328
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About this Author

Associate

Talya Gulezyan is an associate in the Real Estate, Land Use, and Environmental Practice Group in the firm's Los Angeles office.

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