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LA County, the Nation’s Most Populous, Orders Closure of Restaurants and Bars

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This will affect nearly 10 million people in cities like Long Beach, Santa Monica, West Hollywood, Culver City, Beverly Hills, and Pasadena

Santa Monica Pier at dusk, Santa Monica, California.
Santa Monica Pier at dusk, Santa Monica, California
Shutterstock/Vadik Swenson

Today the nation’s most populated county, Los Angeles County, announced a sweeping closure of dine-in restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and other entertainment venues. (As in much of the country under similar orders, takeout and delivery are still allowed.) This order matches the one made by the City of Los Angeles, which announced closures for hospitality establishments late on March 15 in an effort to reduce interaction and curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

This means cities like Long Beach, West Hollywood, Culver City, Glendale, and Santa Monica, which are essentially surrounded by Los Angeles city limits and often have lesser known boundaries, would have to follow the larger county government directive. Whether a restaurant or bar is in Cerritos or Westlake Village, El Segundo or Santa Clarita — all establishments will have to cease dine-in services.

LA County, which has over 10 million residents in 88 incorporated cities and unincorporated areas outside of the City of Los Angeles, issued a directive that the entire county have one standard. Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer said in a live broadcast that “there may be people infected everywhere in the county,” and to “minimize non-essential activities” as much as possible. As of March 16, there were 94 cases of COVID-19 in the county.

Previously, California Governor Gavin Newsom directed bars, wineries, and breweries to close across the state, and restaurants to reduce seating capacity by 50 percent and follow social distancing guidelines. The county guidelines will now exceed the state’s.

LA County’s closure mandate comes just after six San Francisco Bay Area counties, with populations totaling 6.7 million, ordered their residents to “shelter in place,” meaning people would be required to stay home except for “essential needs.”

“We are doing everything we can to avoid having to order entire communities to isolate,” LA County’s Ferrer said, but “nothing is off the table for anybody, anywhere in the United States at this point.”

New York City mayor Bill de Blasio announced that all bars and restaurants are required to shut down by March 17 at 9 a.m., with the exceptions for takeout and delivery. More than a half dozen states, including Illinois, Ohio, and Massachusetts have issued a lockdown of non-essential businesses over the last two days.

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