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Ventura County Reopens for Indoor Dining as Los Angeles Looks Towards End of Month

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Decreasing numbers in LA County could mean a return to indoor dining in just a few weeks’ time, even as state officials battle over a reopening timeline for nearby Disneyland

Haze from Bobcat Fire at the Pier
Tourists on the hazy pier in Santa Monica
Robert Gauthier/ Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

California officials today made a number of adjustments to the state’s color-coded tiered business reopening plan. The new announcements most directly affect neighboring Ventura County, which has just moved from the most restrictive purple tier into the lower red tier, thus allowing restaurants there to immediately reintroduce limited-capacity indoor dining.

Today’s announcement from California Health and Human Services secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly comes on the heels of weeks of limited reopenings across the state. Orange County and San Diego County were the first Southern California counties to allow limited indoor dining once again (at 25 percent of total capacity, or 100 diners, whichever is fewer) early last month, and since then Riverside, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Barbara counties have been added to the less restrictive red tier for business reopening.

The state’s tiered system relies on two primary metrics: total positivity rate and the number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents, among other things. So far Los Angeles County has yet to successfully move to a lower tier (and thus allow restaurants to reopen for limited indoor dining) but county officials have repeatedly said that a new LA County tier assignment could come before the end of the month. “There is a possibility, if we can continue [to see lower numbers] this week and next week,” county health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said yesterday, “that we would be able to move to red.”

Outdoor-only card rooms and indoor malls, among other businesses, have been allowed to reopen this week as part of the county’s limited easing of restrictions. A move to the red tier would also allow for a further reintroduction of other public gathering spaces as well, including gyms and places of worship.

Meanwhile, Dr. Ghaly refused at today’s briefing to offer a firm timeline for the reopening of amusement parts like Magic Mountain in Valencia and Disneyland in Anaheim. The decision to keep those spaces closed has led to a tense standoff amongst corporations like Disney and state officials, with park ownership announcing the mass layoff of 28,000 employees company-wide, including 10 percent directly from the food and dining workforce.

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