- Los Angeles County will shut down outdoor dining beginning Wednesday at 10 p.m. and all on-premise dining will be banned for at least three weeks, according to Eater L.A.
- Restaurants will be able to offer takeout and delivery during this time.
- The California county joins a handful of other local governments, including New Mexico and Oregon, that have closed both indoor and outdoor dining as COVID-19 cases surge throughout the country.
Over the last few weeks as daily new cases reach 200,000 across the country, several states, including Washington, Minnesota, Michigan, Oregon and New Mexico, have closed indoor dining, but only a handful have gone so far as to close outdoor dining. L.A. County restricted outdoor dining to 50% capacity about a week ago, and a doubling of cases led it to the decision to shut it down completely.
Outdoor dining has generally been considered safer than indoor dining because it has better airflow, but many restaurants have been looking into tents and igloos to continue offering the service during the colder months, which health experts told Business Insider are less safe than being outside with a breeze. Seven health experts told ABC News that they wouldn't dine outside in a coronavirus hot spot, with one saying that in areas with high infection rates, everyone should proceed with caution in public areas, including restaurants.
Restrictions on outdoor dining put restaurants at risk of further economic damage, especially as many have already been investing in winterization efforts. A winter slowdown is already expected to potentially erase 2 million in job gains from September and August. New York City's outdoor dining program, for example, was extended year-round and helped save nearly 100,000 jobs, with more than 10,000 restaurants participating.
Some cities are offering ways to help restaurants that have closed down on-premise dining, including a $10 million grant program in Chicago, which banned indoor dining in October. Restaurants continue to urge Congress to pass the Restaurants Act, which would provide billions of dollars in targeted aid to the struggling industry. With one in six restaurants already closed, many more are at risk with further restrictions in place and very little financial help at their disposal.