California Gov. Gavin Newsom is set to announce a new round of lockdowns for Los Angeles County, ahead of what is expected to be a busy Fourth of July weekend, according to at least one person with government ties.
The decision to “toggle back” into the state’s stay at home mandate means that restaurants will only be allowed to serve customers in outdoor areas, or for takeout and delivery. Bars, wineries, and breweries that do not serve food from an approved vendor for sit-down service must close entirely.
Per the source, the lockdowns will last for at least three weeks. Restaurant dining rooms were only recently allowed to reopen under specific guidelines and a 60% capacity on May 29 after being ordered to close on March 15 to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Newsom’s impending announcement comes after successive days of new highs in coronavirus cases statewide, locally, and nationally — and ahead of what is being billed as a potential “disaster” holiday weekend as crowds gather for family parties and in public spaces. “We will see a lot more deaths,” county health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said this week, “if we can’t turn this around, so we do need everyone’s help.”
Los Angeles County officials have already called for the closure of beaches this weekend, beginning Friday at midnight and ending Monday morning at 5 a.m., though county sheriff Alex Villaneuva has said publicly that he will not enforce the order for individuals on the sand. Instead, officers will only enforce traffic and parking along Pacific Coast Highway.
In Riverside County, bars, wineries, and breweries are once again closed as COVID-19 rages on, while in LA County reopened bars only lasted about a week before being told to shutter for health and safety reasons during the ongoing pandemic. Further reopening phases for businesses like bowling alleys and movie theaters have been put on hold, while in New York City plans to reopen restaurants for dine-in service, slated to begin this weekend, have now been scrapped as well.
Newsom will also speak today about increased enforcement for some of the many city, county, and state requirements for businesses and individuals, including the wearing of masks in public and best practices for employees like using both face shields and face coverings, and mandating physical distancing among customers. Los Angeles restaurants and bars in particular have struggled to clearly meet all of the many requirements sent down from the county, with roughly half failing to be in compliance during routine inspections by health department investigators.
The renewed lockdown will be just the latest hurdle for restaurant operators and employees to deal with, following a spring and early summer of shifting to delivery and takeout-only business models, then attempting to reopen safely, and then enduring weeks of important anti-police brutality protests in the streets, even as the National Guard patrolled streets and instituted curfews.
This story is being updated as governor Newsom delivers his noon speech.