Christal Mims, Staff
After the announcement of a statewide curfew, more restrictions are being imposed upon L.A. County after a staggering increase in coronavirus cases.
The county is now under a “stay-at-home” order that bans all public and private outdoor and indoor gatherings of people from different households, with the exception of faith-based services and protests. Residents are also being encouraged to stay at home as much as possible unless going out to acquire essential items.
L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti also announced a “targeted safer-at-home” order that bans all movement in the form of walking, by automobile, public transport, motorcycle, etc. unless going out for essential items or purposes. The new order also requires all residents to stay home or risk being charged with a misdemeanor.
“My message couldn’t be simpler,” Garcetti said during a recent briefing. “It’s time to hunker down. It’s time to cancel everything. And if it isn’t essential, don’t do it.”
He continued by asking all residents to remain indoors as much as possible and not meet with people from different households.
“Don’t meet up with others outside your household. Don’t host a gathering. Don’t attend a gathering. And following our targeted Safer at Home order, if you’re able to stay home, stay home,” he said.
Essential retail businesses are now limited to 35 percent capacity and non-essential retail is now limited to 20 percent capacity. Places like museums, galleries, gyms and zoos can remain open at 50 percent capacity but can only operate outdoors. Schools and day camps will be allowed to stay open unless they report three or more COVID-19 infections in a two-week span.
“If this doesn’t work, and two to three weeks from now, we find ourselves in a worse place than we are, we’re going to have to go back and look at what else do we have as options, because we cannot continue to risk overwhelming the healthcare system,” L.A. County Health Director Barbara Ferrer said.
On Wednesday, Nov. 25 all restaurants, bars, wineries and breweries in the county were ordered to close for both indoor and outdoor dining. Takeout and delivery services will be allowed to continue. All California counties in the purple-tier are under a curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. barring “nonessential work, movement and gatherings.”
Some elected officials are questioning how effective the new restrictions will be. Supervisor Kathryn Barger announced that she formally opposed the halt of in-person dining, citing estimates by the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation that about 700,000 food industry jobs could be lost, with 75 percent of those losses affecting workers earning $50,000 or less annually.
“Businesses have made incredible sacrifices to align with safety protocols to remain open in order to pay their bills and feed their families,” Barger said. “Increased case counts are not coming from businesses reopening, but from large gatherings where people aren’t wearing masks. We aren’t helpless in slowing the spread of COVID-19 and can protect ourselves and our neighbors by maintaining physical distancing and wearing face coverings.”
But the other supervisors, along with Ferrer, believe that the spread is undeniably taking place in environments where people are gathering and taking their masks off – which is inarguably happening at restaurants.
“We are seeing a significant number of violations around the physical distancing protocols, including violations at restaurants, bars breweries and wineries,” Ferrer said.
L.A. County reported another 5,987 coronavirus cases on Wednesday, Dec. 2. The alarming number of cases was reported only one day after the county set a record-high of 7,593 new cases.