California Gov. Gavin Newsom has officially paved the way for restaurants to fully reopen in Los Angeles County, announcing today that his office has approved a request by LA County officials to reopen dining rooms. The announcement, first reported by Eater yesterday evening, comes more than two-and-a-half months after restaurants were ordered to close their dining rooms, first by city mayor Eric Garcetti and later on by Gov. Newsom.
The LA Times confirmed the news this morning that Newsom had granted a variance from the county to reopen restaurants for dining in, as well as the structured reopening of barbershops and hair salons. The variance is the formal request put forward by county officials that states that the region has met certain criteria for reopening in a safe and measured way. Los Angeles County officials submitted its plans on Wednesday, showing that the county was meeting a variety of benchmarks in slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus, and received approval after back and forth discussion between mayor Eric Garcetti, Gov. Newsom, and county officials throughout last night.
The approval of the variance that allows the county to reopen hair salons, barbershops, and restaurants hinged in a variety of criteria set forth by the California Department of Public Health, including a low infection rate (LA sits at 6.5 percent currently, below the 8 percent threshold) and a seven-day reduction in the total number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19. However, overall numbers are still grim for the largest county in the largest state in America, as Los Angeles County reported nearly 50 more coronavirus deaths overnight.
Specifics, such physical distancing between tables, health and safety guidelines for workers and diners, and an official reopening timeline, have not been released yet. It is likely that LA restaurants will be able to open their dining rooms as soon as tomorrow, based on sources Eater has spoken with, and the speed at which Orange and Ventura counties allowed dining rooms to reopen. Governor Newsom is scheduled to give a press conference at noon, followed by a county press conference at 1 p.m., and a statement from mayor Garcetti thereafter. More on this story as it comes.