Los Angeles County is rolling back business openings due to increasing cases of COVID-19 and the current cuts come with warnings that full closures could be needed if the situation worsens.
Starting this Friday, Nov. 20, capacity at most establishments will be cut, some services will be banned and all non-essential retail (including restaurants) will have to close from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily.
The move comes as cases have more than doubled since the start of the month and hospitalizations have reached an average of more than 1,000 cases per day. At this time, the County is reporting 2,884 cases as the five-day average and 1,126 hospitalized patients.
Officials said if those numbers reach a five-day average of 4,000 or more or hospitalizations are more than 1,750 per day, then restaurants will be restricted to take-out only. If the figures increase to 4,500 or more or hospitalizations are more than 2,000 per day the county will impose a three-week stay-at-home order mandating non-essential residents only go out for vital services. The order would also include a curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. with essential workers exempt.
“Los Angeles County is at a critical moment to save lives and curb the spread of COVID-19. I urge our residents, businesses and community leaders to heed this warning and follow these heightened safeguards so that additional restrictions do not need to be imposed,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of Public Health. “We are so grateful that many of our residents are wearing face coverings, keeping physically distanced and avoiding gathering with people they don’t live with, but we need everyone to do their part and follow these measures. Lives and livelihoods are at stake and our entire community will be affected by our collective action if we do the right thing.”
The local orders follows a national trend as cases spike across the country.
More than 73,000 people — an all-time high — were hospitalized with the virus in the U.S. as of Monday, an increase of over 3,000 from just a day earlier, according to the COVID Tracking Project. Hospitals are running out of space, and nurses and doctors in Kansas are converting waiting areas to patient rooms and spending upwards of eight hours on the phone trying to secure beds at other hospitals.
More than 166,000 newly confirmed infections were reported on Monday, according to Johns Hopkins University. The average number of new cases per day has more than doubled over the past few weeks.
The virus is blamed for more than 1.3 million deaths worldwide, including over 247,000 in the U.S. Deaths per day in the U.S. have climbed to an average of 1,145, up from 828 two weeks ago.
The national death toll is on pace to keep climbing in the coming days as states set new records.
For non-essential businesses permitted to operate indoors—including retail stores, offices, personal care services—occupancy will be limited to 25% maximum capacity.
The number of patrons at outdoor restaurants, breweries and wineries will be limited to 50% max outdoor capacity.
The number customers at cardrooms, outdoor mini-golf, go-karts and batting cages will be limited to 50% maximum outdoor capacity.
Services at personal care establishments may only be provided by appointment to customers wearing face coverings by staff wearing face coverings.
Services that require either the customer or the staff to remove their face covering, such as facials and shaves, are not permitted.
Food and drinks cannot be served at these establishments to customers.
Restaurants, breweries, wineries, bars, and all other non-essential retail establishments must close from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.
Outdoor gatherings remain the only gatherings permitted, and they must only include 15 people maximum who are members of no more than 3 households.