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LA County May Return to 25 Percent Indoor Dining ‘This Week,’ Officials Say

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Dr. Barbara Ferrer says LA County will move to a less restrictive tier once the state changes its coronavirus case threshold

Diners sit at Selanne Steak Tavern in Laguna Beach in May 2020, when Orange County restaurants were initially allowed to reopen at reduced capacity for indoor dining.
Indoor dining, last year, in Orange County
Wonho Frank Lee
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 County Public Health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said today that the country’s most populous county is projected to move into the state’s less-restrictive red tier “by the end of this week,” beating the previous “end of month” projections that public health officials had been touting before. The move is not entirely unexpected (and has not been fully formalized yet), given the many, many hints from public officials like Dr. Ferrer and Los Angeles city Mayor Eric Garcetti about broader reopening over the past week.

Once formalized, the move to the red tier means that restaurants will be able to offer indoor dining at 25 percent of total business capacity (based on certificate of occupancy) up to 100 total diners, whichever is fewer. Outdoor dining would also remain in place at current levels, along with existing social distancing and COVID-19 protocols for workers and diners alike.

“If this week’s adjusted case rate remains below [10 cases per 100,000 residents], our understanding is that within 48 hours of the state announcing that the vaccine trigger had been met, LA County would be moved into the red tier and would be permitted to reopen additional activities,” Dr. Ferrer said just this hour in a media-only press conference.

As Eater noted last week, the move comes on the heels of a state-led effort to redistribute some vaccine doses to hard-hit communities. Once two million total doses have been redistributed, the state will announce a change to the data thresholds it uses to move between restriction tiers for each county; moving up the data threshold means that Los Angeles County would fall into the red tier automatically.

Again, a formal starting date for the return to indoor dining as part of the red tier has not yet been announced, though it is possible the news could come as soon as tomorrow as part of California Governor Gavin Newsom’s state of the state-style public address. “We will be moving to prepare modifications to the public health order to move into the red tier” this week, Dr. Ferrer said, so restaurants looking to resume indoor dining should at least begin preparing for the move now. This is a developing story.