It’s barely been a month since the State of California reopened in a moment that felt downright celebratory after 15 months of guidelines designed to minimize infection and death rates during the coronavirus pandemic. One of those changes is making a return to Los Angeles County on Saturday, July 17 at 11:59 p.m., when a new health order will go into effect requiring residents to wear masks when indoors. This requirement also goes for those who are fully vaccinated.
In a Thursday afternoon press briefing, LA County health officials stated concerns about the 288 percent increase of COVID-19 infections over the last two weeks. The Los Angeles Times reports the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put the region into a “substantial” community transmission for coronavirus. With a four-category rating system ranking coronavirus infection rates — one being the worst — this system places LA County into the second category. Long Beach’s own health department, which operates independently from LA County, will follow along with Los Angeles, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.
The LA Times also reports that most new cases are people that are unvaccinated. Over the last six months, those who have not received a Moderna, Pfizer, or J&J shot make up 99.6 percent COVID-19 cases within Los Angeles County, along with 98.7 percent of COVID-19 hospitalizations and 99.8 percent of deaths.
LA County’s health department says that indoor capacity at restaurants will remain the same, but all residents must mask up when in public indoor spaces, including restaurants, movie theaters, retail establishments, and malls. The rules mark a return to life prior to June 15, 2021, when indoor dining was allowed, but masks were required to be on while ordering, and when not eating or drinking.
County health officer Dr. Muntu Davis said indoor mask-wearing could effectively slow the spread while not interrupting business at Los Angeles restaurants and businesses. But he also said this quick action is necessary, and cautioned that more restrictive steps could take place if conditions worsen.
Questions remain for restaurants and workers. This current surge could mark a return to capacity limits, indoor dining restrictions, or even time limits while dining. As the entire University of California just announced a requirement for students to be fully vaccinated before returning to campus this fall, restaurants might do the same by requiring customers and employees to show proof of vaccination for entry or employment.