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The New Law To Make Outdoor Dining Easier For Restaurants Kicks In Immediately

Two men and a woman are seated at an outdoor restaurant table. One man is in the foreground, and the other two people are sitting on the other side of the table. They are all facing the camera.
Steve Gonzalez of Alhambra met his siblings for brunch at Millie's Cafe on the last day outdoor service was allowed in Pasadena for at least three weeks.
(Josie Huang/LAist)
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Last week, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law a bill that will make it easier for California restaurants to expand outdoor dining.

AB 61 will allow local jurisdictions and the Department of Alcohol Beverage Control, which regulates all alcohol production, distribution and sales in the state, to be more flexible with a variety of regulations. These include how food is prepared and served outdoors and how restaurants arrange and use their outdoor spaces to increase dining capacity. The new law also extends existing ABC orders that allow alcohol to be served in these outdoor areas.

Unlike most of the bills Newsom has recently signed into law — including one to allow takeout cocktails and another that makes it easier to set up slower streets programs — AB 61 goes into effect immediately. (Most laws won't take effect until Jan. 1, 2022.)

People eat takeout food in a public parklet in Manhattan Beach on December 12, 2020.
(Patrick T. Fallon
AFP via Getty Images)
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For many dining and drinking establishments, al fresco dining programs that allowed them to expand their service areas to sidewalks, parking lots and streets have been a lifeline during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many establishments pushed to make the temporary and emergency measures allowing such expansions a permanent thing.

Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti has been a big supporter of them.

"The changes we made to support outdoor dining during the pandemic saved countless jobs and businesses, and Angelenos have been clear that they want to see these improvements stay in place for good,” Garcetti said after AB 61 was signed into law.

AB 61 was authored by Jesse Gabriel, who represents the 45th Assembly District, which includes Woodland Hills.

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