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Gov. Newsom Tells Nearly All SoCal Counties to Close Indoor Dining Immediately

Orange County and others can only allow outdoor dining, takeout, or delivery now as coronavirus rages on

MEXICO-HEALTH-VIRUS
A worker marks a path at a restaurant outside
Photo by CLAUDIO CRUZ/AFP via Getty Images

Multiple Southern California counties beyond Los Angeles are also subject to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s “toggling back” of reopening orders, as announced first today by Eater. The news means that restaurants and bars in nearby Orange County, Riverside County, Kern County, San Bernardino County, Ventura County, and Santa Barbara County must all close for dine-in service immediately, though restaurants may still offer outdoor dining as well as takeaway and delivery. Business with bar-only licenses must close completely, unless they have partnered with an approved and licensed food vendor to serve food along with drinks.

“This doesn’t mean restaurants shut down,” Gov. Newsom said in the press conference. “It means that we’re to take as many activities as we can and move them outdoors, which is a way of mitigating the spread of this virus.”

The news comes on the cusp of what is expected to be a busy Fourth of July weekend, with many restaurant operators stocking their kitchens and ramping up staff. But with coronavirus cases spiking to new record highs daily, the continued opening of in-restaurant dining rooms is now off the table, at least for the next three weeks. Bars had already been told to close on Sunday night in Los Angeles County, just one week after first being allowed to reopen.

What’s more, Newsom announced plans for increased enforcement of all manner of city, county, and state mandates, including things like wearing masks in public, social distancing, no public gatherings, and various regulations relating to the food service industry. Many restaurants (as many as 50 percent by some counts) have struggled to be fully in compliance with the mandated guidelines since reopening at the end of May. Newsom says that a collection of agencies including local departments of public health and the state’s liquor board will work together as “strike teams” to identify those not in compliance and provide guidance or, in some cases, take punitive action.

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