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LA Restaurant Owners Prepare For 10PM Curfew 

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People gather to view a broadcast of Game 1 of the 2020 World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Tampa Bay Rays at an outdoor bar and restaurant, amid the pandemic, on Oct. 20 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
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Restaurants across L.A. County will have to close at 10 p.m. starting Friday night based on new public health orders.

The county’s increased restrictions come one day before a state curfew takes hold in other parts of Southern California.

State and local officials say they’re urging people to stay home and ordering restaurants, bars and other businesses to stop in-person service after 10 p.m. because COVID-19 cases are surging, and reducing late-night social gatherings could help lower infection rates.

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But struggling local restaurant owners who have adapted to outdoor service say the curfews could lead to lower sales and pay cuts for staff.

Christy Vega, who owns the Sherman Oaks Mexican restaurant Casa Vega, said she has spent tens of thousands of dollars on tents, heating lamps and other equipment for outdoor dining.

That has helped Casa Vega stay open until midnight, she said, but now they will have to close early and workers will have to go home with less income.

“You're hitting the dishwashers and the bus boys,” Vega said. “All those people are going to lose two hours every day off their shift.”

Bret Thompson, the chef and owner of Pez Cantina in Downtown L.A., said customers who stay past 10 p.m. for patio dining tend to be more profitable because they’re often ordering more alcohol.

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He said he understands the need to curb COVID rates, but it’s hard to lose those sales at the end of the night.

“I've lost two friends this year to COVID. It's definitely very, very serious,” Thompson said. “For me, it's still an internal battle. How do we balance staying open, doing business, and keeping everyone safe?”

Restaurants can still open for outdoor service during the day and early evenings, but only at 50% of their outdoor maximum capacity.

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