New restrictions take effect across Los Angeles County Friday amid surge in COVID-19 cases

Saturday, November 21, 2020
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A set of new restrictions prompted by a surge in COVID-19 cases took effect in Los Angeles County Friday, mostly affecting businesses like restaurants.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A set of new restrictions prompted by a surge in COVID-19 cases took effect in Los Angeles County Friday, mostly affecting businesses like restaurants.

Under the updated health order announced earlier this week, eateries, breweries and wineries will be limited to a maximum of 50% outdoor capacity. Those businesses, as well as other non-essential establishments must be closed between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Businesses can still offer pick-up and delivery services outside of these hours.

County officials stressed that it isn't a curfew, just restrictions on operating hours to reduce the possibility of crowds and potential for exposure to the virus.

Other non-essential businesses that are allowed to have people indoors, such as retailers, offices and personal care services, will be required to limit their capacity to just 25%.

Additionally, services at personal care businesses may only be provided by appointment.

Jacob Chamanian owns eight Bok Bok Chicken restaurants, a relatively new chain that's among businesses hit hard by the pandemic. And as the business owner struggles to stay open, Chamanian says leaders in Washington, D.C. need to step up again.

"The federal government, the state government, somebody needs to help so we can survive. I can't send my employees home... They'd be on the street, I can't do that. But at the same time, how much longer can I last?" he asked.

As business owners grapple with these restrictions, officials are keeping a close eye on local coronavirus trends to determine if further action is needed.

As of Friday, L.A. County has a two-day average of roughly 4,500 new daily COVID-19 cases, but it's the five-day average that county public health officials use as a threshold to decide whether stricter measures are needed.

On Wednesday, county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said a safer-at-home order could again be issued if the five-day average of COVID-19 cases exceeds 4,500 or if hospitalizations exceed 2,000 per day. That order would remain in effect for at least three weeks.

On Thursday, the county reported 5,031 coronavirus cases, the highest number of cases reported in a single day in L.A. County since the start of the pandemic.

That means the county could find itself under a strict stay-at-home order as early as Sunday.

"We still have a few more days to go, but if the numbers remain high, then potentially by Sunday, we can have the five-day average being higher than what we would want to see and would need to implement a safer-at-home order," said county health officer Dr. Muntu Davis.

On the statewide level, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday ordered a curfew for all California counties in the purple tier. The curfew will affect 41 of the state's 58 counties, including L.A. County.

The curfew, which the state is calling a "limited Stay at Home Order," will be in effect from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. starting Saturday.