Last week, the LA County Department of Public Health announced the region’s reopening of indoor dining as a part of the county’s move from the purple to red tier. Even though indoor dining can resume with 25 percent capacity, LA County health officer Dr. Muntu Davis offered caution to individuals who dine indoors, saying that there’s a higher risk to eating a meal in an enclosed space. He also warned that those with a higher risk for illness or death from coronavirus should avoid indoor dining rooms altogether.
Surrounding Southern California counties will also move into the less restrictive red tier this week, including Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside, and Ventura. According to the Los Angeles Times, health experts ponder whether the region’s reopening of schools, museums, and gyms will cause another surge in COVID-19 cases. There’s also the new and more contagious variant showing up in LA County, prompting Dr. Davis to remind residents that people are still susceptible to infection.
Dr. Davis also also warned that not adhering to safety guidelines could result in a new surge in hospitalizations, and encouraged people to continue using face coverings and county mandated social distancing to help keep restaurants open and residents healthy.
Today, LA County public health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer also noted modified guidelines to follow to ensure safety with dining indoors, including an evaluated Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system, and maintain an eight feet distance between tables. With indoor dining, only one household can dine together with six people maximum. Three different households can dine together outdoors, with a limit of six people at the table as well.
Coronavirus infection rates and deaths have been falling significantly since early February, and after wealthier residents accessed appointments meant for communities heavily impacted by the pandemic, the state is administering more vaccines to these areas.
LA County health department issued the following warnings on its website, and designated low to high risk categories of dining out:
The risk of COVID-19 spread increases in a restaurant setting, as described below, as individuals remove their face masks while eating and drinking and there is increased interaction with those who do not live in the same household.
- Lowest Risk: Food service limited to drive-through, delivery, take-out, and curbside pick-up.
- More Risk: Drive-through, delivery, take-out, and curbside pick-up emphasized. On-site dining limited to outdoor seating. Seating capacity reduced to allow tables to be spaced further apart.
- Higher Risk: On-site dining with indoor seating capacity reduced to allow tables to be spaced further apart. And/or on-site dining with outdoor seating, but tables not spaced further apart.
- Highest Risk: On-site dining with indoor seating. Seating capacity is not reduced, and tables not spaced further apart.
- What to Know About All of LA County’s Newly Relaxed On-Site Dining Rules [ELA]