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Los Angeles Bars Cleared to Reopen Tomorrow, With New Rules in Place

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Distancing inside, and no more grabbing drinks straight from the bar

1886 Bar cocktail
A cocktail
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.

Los Angeles officials say that America’s most populous county is ready for its next wave of reopenings, announcing today that bars will be allowed to return to service tomorrow. The news comes just weeks after the surprise reopening of restaurant dining rooms at 60 percent capacity, and less than a week after county health official Dr. Barbara Ferrer told reporters that half of the 2,000 restaurants they inspected were not safely following health guidelines to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Per the LA Times, Los Angeles County bars, wineries, breweries, and tasting rooms are all cleared to reopen, albeit with a few caveats in place. Among them: the continued practice of physical distancing between seats/tables, servers wearing masks, and lots of sanitizer and regular cleaning practices in place. And, as TimeOut Los Angeles notes, customers may only sit at the bar if they can remain six feet from other patrons and the bartender.

The full ten-page list of reopening protocols can be found here.

It’s important to note that breweries and bars have been allowed to reopen before tomorrow, as long as they partnered with a licensed area food vendor of some kind (a next-door restaurant, a pop-up, a food truck) to serve food with the drinks. That easement is one of a number the state’s alcohol board as put in place since the start of the pandemic; others include the available expansion for bars and restaurants into public areas like parking lots and sidewalks, and the ability to sell cocktails and beer/wine to go.

The news of tomorrow’s broader reopening comes as Los Angeles County totaled more than 1,000 new cases of COVID-19, and 36 deaths. Counties across California and the greater United States have begun to see reopening spikes in COVID numbers, including a reported 76% increase in related hospitalizations in Orange County. In response, today governor Gavin Newsom mandated the use of face coverings for all California citizens while outdoors.