LA County announces stricter stay-at-home order to come Monday as coronavirus case rate climbs

Los Angeles County will ban most public and private gatherings next week as part of a stricter stay-at-home order, health officials announced Friday, Nov. 27, as the coronavirus case rate continued to climb.

The new order will go into effect Monday, Nov. 30.

Officials reported 24 more coronavirus-related deaths and 4,544 new cases in Los Angeles County on Friday. The five-day average of new cases is now 4,751.

There were also 1,893 LA County residents in hospitals with the coronavirus, 24% of whom were in intensive care. On Oct. 27, one month ago, there were 747 people in hospitals with the virus.

To date, the county’s Public Health Department has identified 387,793 coronavirus cases across L.A. County and 7,604 coronavirus-related deaths.

“With the recent surge of COVID-19 across our community,” Barbara Ferrer, the county’s director of Public Health, said in a statement, “we must take additional safety measures to reduce the risk of illness and death from this terrible virus and protect our healthcare system.”

The new health order will ban all public and private gatherings except for protests and religious services, and shut down playgrounds and card rooms. It will also limit occupancy at various businesses, including capping essential retail at 35% capacity. The new order was triggered because the county’s case rate topped 4,500.

Libraries, personal care services and non-essential retail, including indoor malls, will all be capped at 20% occupancy. Outdoor fitness centers, museums, galleries, zoos, aquariums, outdoor botanical gardens, mini-golf, batting cages and outdoor go-kart racing, meanwhile, will all be capped at 50% occupancy.

The order will remain in effect through at least Dec. 20.

The new order does not impact Long Beach or Pasadena, which both have their own health departments and maintain their own health orders to contain the further spread of the coronavirus.

Pasadena has generally aligned with LA County’s orders throughout the pandemic. But most recently, the city diverged in allowing outdoor dining to continue.

Pasadena spokesperson Lisa Derderian said Friday the city was reviewing the order to determine which measures to adopt.

Long Beach, meanwhile, has yet to significantly depart from LA County’s health orders.

Long Beach spokesperson Kevin Lee said Friday that the city will “continue to analyze our local data and make decisions based on that.”

“Of course we will also continue to work with our County partners to better understand the spread regionally,” he added in a statement, “and its effect on Long Beach.”

Friday’s news came as businesses adjusted to the most recent tightening of restrictions, the ban on in-person dining that went into effect Wednesday, Nov. 25.

Some restaurants, though, continued to offer outdoor dining on Friday in defiance of the order.

Late Friday morning, Eat at Joe’s, in Redondo Beach, served tables full of customers on its outdoor patio and on the sidewalk off of Pacific Coast Highway.

Alex Jordan, the restaurant’s longtime owner, said he had “pretty steady” business since he opened at 6 a.m.

Jordan said he was aware of the possible consequences of defying the order, which include fines and potentially losing the restaurant’s permit to operate.

“You just have to decide if the reason for the stand you’re taking is more important than the repercussions you’re gonna face,” Jordan said. “And for me, it definitely was.

“My employees have been with me a long time and putting them out on the street with no government aid, no government subsidy, no nothing for four weeks before Christmas,” Jordan added, “it’s just totally unacceptable to me.”

Ferrer, for her part, said she understands how burdensome the restrictions have been — but stressed the need to continue taking the pandemic seriously.

“We know we are asking a lot from so many who have been sacrificing for months on end,” she said, “and we hope that L.A. County residents continue following Public Health safety measures that we know can slow the spread. Acting with collective urgency right now is essential if we want to put a stop to this surge.”

County officials did not comment Friday specifically on what types of enforcement mechanisms they planned to use as the health order restrictions tighten.

“The restriction on in-person dining protects customers and employees, as it eliminates contact between people who are not wearing face coverings and within 6-feet of each other,” Brett Morrow, a spokesperson for the Public Health Department, said in a statement. “Public Health inspectors are conducting inspections and will inform restaurants, breweries or wineries that are not in compliance about their obligation to adhere to the new safety requirements or face legal actions.”

Morrow said residents and employees are encouraged to report violations to the Public Health Environmental Health Complaint Line, 888-700-9995.

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