Many restaurant owners fear their businesses will fail in the wake of a new Los Angeles County order restricting all dine-in operations, including outdoor dining, for three weeks starting the evening of Wednesday, 11/23.
This new rule, which was just announced by county officials, is reawakening the pains of shutdowns first seen in March as the COVID-19 pandemic spiraled out of control in America. According to ABC7 News, LA's Department of Public Health just released a statement reading in part: "To reduce the possibility for crowding and the potential for exposures in settings where people are not wearing their face coverings, restaurants, breweries, wineries, and bars will only be able to offer takeout, drive-thru, and delivery services… In-person dining will not be allowed, at minimum, for the next 3 weeks." (Related: 9 Restaurant Chains That Closed Hundreds of Locations This Summer.)
This new order comes at a critical time for restaurant owners and employees who were counting on the annual bump in business that comes during the holiday season. "Usually the holidays are a nice little bump for us, but it looks like that's not going to happen this year," restaurant owner Jacob Shaw told the Los Angeles Times.
What makes matters worse is the fact that many restaurants spent tens of thousands of dollars in recent months enlarging and enhancing their outdoor dining spaces—areas that will now sit idle as all in-person dining is curtailed for three weeks. Many in the industry fear the new restrictions will be extended, potentially limiting their services to delivery or pick-up throughout the entire holiday season.
As difficult as the new limits will be for many businesses that are already struggling, the fact is that they are necessary: Los Angeles is seeing an unprecedented spike in coronavirus cases with new records set just last week.
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