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Mayor Garcetti Says LA ‘On the Verge’ of Return to Indoor Dining This Month

“Hope is on the horizon,” Mayor Garcetti said in an interview this week

USC Schwarzenegger Institute Homeless Forum Photo by Paul Bersebach/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images
Mona Holmes is a reporter for Eater Los Angeles and a regular contributor to KCRW radio. She has covered restaurants, dining, and food culture since 2016. In 2022, the James Beard Foundation nominated her for a Jonathan Gold Local Voice Award.

Could Los Angeles really be about to resume indoor dining next week? According to Los Angeles city Mayor Eric Garcetti... maybe. During a wide-ranging interview that went up last night on ABC7, Garcetti delivered an optimistic look at reopening indoor dining with limited capacity as part of the red tier, the state’s multi-tiered, color-coded reopening system. The mayor pointed at data like the decreasing COVID-19 rates throughout the region, and vaccine availability, that could collectively move the city and county out of the state’s most restrictive tier. At present LA, Ventura, and Orange counties (among others in Southern California) remain locked out of any on-site indoor dining per the state’s own guidelines, relying instead on limited-capacity outdoor dining and takeout and delivery.

“We are on the verge of the red tier which will allow indoor dining at the state level if the county authorizes that at 25 percent,” said Garcetti in the interview. “If this trend continues — hopefully we won’t plateau at a lower number but keep going down — that could expand beyond 25 percent. But I talked to [LA County public health director] Dr. Ferrer. If the trends hold right now, we’re at the adjusted rate of about 17 cases per 100,000 people daily. Which would mean as soon as this coming week we could hit that threshold, which you have to hold for a week. And if it holds, we can go into the red tier, and it is authorized if the county gives it the green light.”

Even if LA County moves to the red tier, wineries and tasting rooms will be able to operate outdoors only, but bars and distilleries will unfortunately remain closed. Southern California retail stores will also be able to increase capacity in the red tier, along with limited capacity allowed at museums, movie theaters, gyms, and zoos.

Meanwhile several other counties across the state are beginning to move into the less restrictive red tier, including San Luis Obispo County. Up in the Bay Area, indoor dining is set to resume in San Francisco on Wednesday. Though Garcetti says a week is a possibility for the return of indoor dining, two weeks seems to be a more realistic wait time, per the state’s own guidelines. Garcetti noted, “It would probably be at least a one week process to see whether that number holds, and the county is eligible in two weeks time to say green light for things like indoor dining.”