Outdoor dining is expected to resume today, Los Angeles County Public Health officials announced hours after the state lifted a health order prohibiting the practice..
Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday that he was lifting a stay-at-home order that has been in effect since early December, returning counties to the statewide guidelines of the tiered system, which allows in-person dining outdoors. Health officials said later that day that they would issue a health order on Friday allowing restaurants to serve patrons outdoors.
“We are very pleased that our local restaurants can reopen for outdoor dining, and we know it’s important to them,” Mayor Diana Mahmud said in a statement. “We strongly encourage restaurant patrons to continue to exercise caution by, among other things, wearing masks when not eating or drinking for not only their own safety, but that of all those around them.”
Mahmud added that she planned to clarify with county officials whether the most recent guidelines for outdoor dining will return or will be revised on account of current circumstances.
The county will also rescind a curfew for nonessential businesses that requires them to close from 10 p.m.-5 a.m.
Personal care services such as hair and nail salons were able to open at 25% indoor capacity starting Monday, and outdoor private gatherings are allowed when limited to three households and a total of 15 people. Museums, zoos and aquariums can also reopen for outdoor operations.
Many restrictions remain in place, however. L.A. County, like most of the state, is in the purple tier in the state’s recovery blueprint, indicating widespread coronavirus transmission and requiring many nonessential businesses to halt indoor operations.
Newsom’s December health order restricted many sectors based on a region’s intensive care unit capacity, which, in Southern California, has remained at 0% for more than a month.
However, Newsom pointed to encouraging indicators that the surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations was improving, saying that Southern California was projected to be at 33.3% ICU capacity by Feb. 21. He also explained that the state’s projection of ICU capacity relies on multiple variables, including estimated available capacity, community transmission, case rates and ICU admission rates.
But Newsom and other officials reminded residents that improvement in those statistics could change if individuals and businesses flouted restrictions.
“Everything that should be up is up. Everything that should be down is down,” Newsom said Monday, explaining that hospitalizations due to COVID-19 had decreased by 20% over two weeks. “But we are not out of the woods.”
L.A. County’s public health department announced on Saturday that the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 had fallen to 6,881. It was the first time the figure had dropped below 7,000 since Dec. 29, but officials also announced that day that more than 15,000 people in the county had died from the coronavirus since it began.
“More restrictions may be needed if noncompliance leads to hospitalizations and transmission,” L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis said on Monday. “We need to be vigilant and always do what is best for our residents. While we continue to wait for more vaccines to come, our actions still matter a great deal.”
There have been 1,149 cumulative cases of COVID-19 in South Pasadena and 35 deaths due to the disease as of Wednesday. Of those, 170 cases were identified within the prior 14-day period.
VACCINE ELIGIBILITY SHIFTS
Newsom also announced Monday that the state will switch to an age-based vaccine eligibility system after those who are 65 and older, as well as first responders, health-care workers, agricultural workers and school staff members, receive vaccines.
Currently, in L.A. County, health-care workers, long-term care residents and people 65 and older are eligible to receive the vaccine. But many have complained that the state’s vaccine rollout has been slow, with some worrying there aren’t enough doses or that the wrong groups are being prioritized.
“We’re not losing sight of any of those fundamentals, any of our values,” Newsom said, “but we realize we have got to increase throughput here, and while we are proud of the framework we put out, CDC put out … we recognize it has advantages, and it has disadvantages as it relates [to] speed and efficiency.”
Newsom also said that the state had launched a pilot service at myturn.ca.gov, a web application that allows residents to be notified when they are eligible to receive the vaccine.
Zane Hill contributed to this report.