LOS ANGELES (CBSLA)- On Wednesday, restaurants up and down Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood were able to deliver outdoor dining again.
“I’m looking forward to seeing all the regulars and people come back out,” George Figares, manager of Fiesta Cantina, said. “Most importantly bringing back our staff and making sure people are employed.”
However, officials said the new reopening round will most likely come with stricter health security standards.
“It would be nice if we knew exactly when they are going to give us these parameters, because we don’t feel comfortable opening until we know exactly what parameters the health department is looking for,” Erroll Roussel, co-owner of Kitchen 24, said.
Present outdoor dining standards include reducing capacity to no more than 50 percent with tables situated at least six feet away from each other. Personal protection devices, including goggles and facial guards, must also be worn by servers.
Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of the Public Health Department of Los Angeles County, said the county would consult with restaurant owners and staff unions and would potentially announce the revised rules on Thursday, less than a day before restaurants are scheduled to be permitted to reopen outdoor dining.
But, Ferrer added, the scenes of sports fans crowding in can’t happen again during the World Series and the NBA Championship.
“People were crowded, holding their drinks, standing up, not wearing any face coverings, watching a TV at a restaurant all packed in,” she said. “That’s not the rule.
“You can’t be standing and eating and drinking,” she continued. “You can’t be gathering in crowds, that’s where transmission happened and will happen again.”
As with the county’s vaccination rollout, authorities said that because of the ongoing shortage of supplies and the requirement for second doses for healthcare employees vaccinated at the beginning of the year, it was also going slower than ideal.
And while the state announced that the COVID-19 vaccine would be moved to an age-based delivery scheme, Ferrer said the county would finish the vaccines first for those already registered.
“The governor did announce that they were thinking of moving to an aged-based prioritization system, but we will complete Phase 1b, Tier 1, that includes both people who are 65 and older [along] with three important essential worker sectors — education and childcare, day care, agriculture and food and public safety,” she said.
Public Health reported 6,917 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases and 307 additional fatalities on Wednesday, raising the total countywide to 1,091,712 cases and 15,897 fatalities.
Officials said that there were 6,211 patients with COVID-19 hospitalized in L.A. County, 25 percent of whom were treated and 23 percent of whom were on ventilators in intensive care units.
The average positivity rate of the county stayed unchanged at 19 percent with test reports available for more than 5.4 million persons, while health authorities noticed that the daily positivity rate tended to decrease.