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Santa Barbara, San Diego Counties Lead Southern California Restaurant Reopening Today

Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties are not open — yet

Covid-19 Pandemic Does Not Stop Tourists
Outdoor diners in Santa Barbara County
Photo by George Rose/Getty Images
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

Southern California has begun to push deeper into Gov. Gavin Newsom’s “phase two” plan for reopening the state economy, with several counties surrounding greater Los Angeles once again open for shopping and in-restaurant dining.

As of today, Ventura County, Kern County (home of Bakersfield an hour north), San Luis Obispo County and Santa Barbara County on the Central Coast, and San Diego County to the south have all moved into what’s being called phase 2B.

Los Angeles has not been approved to move deeper into the second reopening phase, and likely won’t for a while due to the area’s density and state-leading coronavirus outbreak rate. County supervisor Kathryn Barger said earlier this week that Los Angeles likely won’t reopen in a meaningful way until at least July 4.

Nearby, Orange County, San Bernardino County, and Riverside County have not yet been given state-level approval to reopen. Riverside County officials, meanwhile, have stated that they will not enforce statewide guidelines for things like the closure of dining rooms at restaurants and the wearing of face coverings.

The phase 2B reopening means that diners can once again enter into a restaurant and sit for a meal, albeit with a slew of state-led precautions in place. That includes a reduction or elimination of shared service items like condiments and menus, physical distancing wherever possible, smaller group numbers at tables, and a sharp reduction in the number of people in the restaurant at any one time, totaling 50 percent or less of the given occupancy of the space.

Diners will also likely be asked to sit outside in their cars while waiting for a table, and to wear masks when possible (they are not mandated to be worn at the table while eating and drinking). Takeout and delivery will still be available from restaurants, and the state is pushing for diners to eat on patios and in other outdoor areas — even opening up new ways for folks to drink and eat in public spaces like parking lots and sidewalks.