As new cases, testing positivity and hospitalizations for COVID-19 continue to soar at what LA County officials said yesterday are “alarming levels” – the five-day average of new cases now stands at more than 4,000 per day – the LA County Department of Health announced that the current county health order “will be modified to restrict dining at restaurants, breweries, wineries and bars.”
“To reduce the possibility for crowding and the potential for exposures in settings where people are not wearing their face coverings,” the announcement said, “restaurants, breweries, wineries and bars will only be able to offer take-out, drive thru, and delivery services. Wineries and breweries may continue their retail operations adhering to current protocols. In person dining will not be allowed, at minimum, for the next 3 weeks.”
The order will take effect on Wednesday, November 25 at 10:00 p.m.
And if the numbers continue to increase, officials said, the order will become even stricter. “If the five-day average of cases is 4,500 or more or hospitalizations are more than 2,000 per day, a Targeted Safer at Home Order will be issued for three weeks. The Order would offer additional restrictions while allowing essential and emergency workers and those securing essential services to leave their homes.”
“As we modify our Thanksgiving holiday celebrations, we are reminded of the many families who will miss their loved ones who have passed away from COVID-19. We send wishes for healing and peace,” said Barbara Ferrer, Director of Public Health, in Sunday’s statment. “The persistent high number of cases requires additional safety measures that limit mixing in settings where people are not wearing masks. We hope individuals continue to support restaurants, breweries and wineries by ordering for take-out or delivery. We also fervently hope every L.A. County resident supports all our businesses by following the Public Health directives that we know work to slow spread. Unfortunately, if our cases and hospitalizations continue to increase, we will need to issue further restrictions to protect our healthcare system and prevent more deaths.”
Our local dining establishments have already been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic over the last eight months, and this will be one more blow, coming just before the busy holiday season. But local restaurateurs are still trying hard to roll with the punches. As Steve Vernetti, owner of Larchmont’s Vernetti restaurant, posted on Instagram yesterday, “We did this once we will do it again. Stay tuned while we turn these lemons into something delicious. 💯💥💪 Thank you all so much. We feel your heartbeat.”
Vernetti told the Buzz this morning that he will make further announcements via Instagram in the next few days, “as I get my details in order.” In the meantime, he said, “We will be open 6 nights from 5-9. We will have most things on our reg menu including things like fried chicken boxes designed to feed 2 or more and I will be making cheesecakes sell as slices or as whole cakes. We will offer Meyer lemon and raspberry. Plus near Xmas we will have panettone bread pudding and I will take orders for chocolate truffles.”
Meanwhile, the increase in case counts has been reflected locally as well as county-wide, with our Buzz-area numbers also rising quickly over the last week:
Thankfully, death numbers have not budged much locally in the last week…
…but at the county level, death rates have begun to rise, too (see the little hook-shaped uptick in the chart at the left below), and as case rates and hospitalizations increase (steeply, in the chart at the right below), it’s likely they will continue to do so as time goes on.