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Garcetti Announces Outdoor Dining Program, Says Offices In LA Can Reopen If Telework is Not Possible

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Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said data from the L.A. County Department of Public Health shows that "we have reduced the spread of the virus and met the state's criteria to open more businesses and activities."

Tonight, he said, that includes indoor dining for restaurants that follow strict rules, including proper physicial distancing, and also businesses whose employees cannot telework. Soon it will also include outdoor dining for restaurants who have applied to the city and been approved for it.

Garcetti made the announcements as part of his regular briefing on the city's response to the coronavirus pandemic.

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"I know a lot of you are thinking, 'Oh is this just about people getting haircuts or being able to go out to a restaurant?' At its heart, this is about saving lives and livelihoods. The people who work in those restaurants...the people who cut hair, have not had a paycheck in months. This is about what we can do to learn the lessons of living with COVID-19 and to take steps forward. Urgent steps, safely."

THE NUMBERS, WITH QUOTES FROM THE MAYOR:
  • This week we had a 20% reduction in deaths from last week
  • "In our testing centers, we have the lowest positive rate for our tests since we started testing." -- that's about 4.5%
  • Our hospitalizations are lower than the week before, and lower than the week before that. "In fact, we haven't seen hospitalizations this low since it was March."
He added:
"I know for some we can't go too fast with the reopening, for others we can't go too slow, but I'm always guided by this data. And our data shows that our county has met the criteria to move into the advanced stages of Phase 2 of the state's resilience roadmap. But the data also reminds us the virus isn't gone."

NEW OPENINGS:

Garcetti said, in light of this data, he is comfortable allowing the following, starting today:

  • Barbershops and hair salons can reopen, serving one client at a time
  • Spa services, like massage, facials and waxing are not yet permitted
  • At restaurants, outdoor dining and curbside pick-up will be "prioritized," but inside dining can now restart at 60% capacity
  • Offices can now reopen, but only when telework is not possible. "So if you can work from home, you still need to work from home."

He urged everyone to pay with card, instead of cash, to make transactions safer, and to wear face coverings in all businesses. He also urged business owners not to rush into reopening until they are ready. "To be clear, businesses are not mandated to open," he said.
Every business that's reopening is still required by the county to implement the detailed public health protocols and post them, Garcetti said. Those can be found at coronavirus.la city.org/business.

INTRODUCING (DRUM ROLL PLEASE) L.A. AL FRESCO

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Another new change, Garcetti announced tonight, is the opening of a new outdoor dining program with a fancy Italian name.

L.A. Al Fresco will provide temporary "no-cost allowances" for restaurants to set up outdoor dining on sidewalks and private parking lots. The mayor said the program may expand to streets in the future, but that takes more "engineering" to figure out.

Interested restaurants can apply at coronavirus.lacity.org/alfresco. The city will notify applicants as soon as "resources are made available."

"I know it's hard for restaurants to make a profit at reduced capacity. But what this allows is for you to have more people, even with that reduced capacity, by expanding the capacity to sidewalks and to parking lots, and to make sure you can get the number of customers you need to make sure people keep their jobs and our restaurants can stand back up."

All of this comes on the same day L.A. County reached 50,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus (exact number is 51,560). The county had 250 new deaths this week; 111 of them were in the city of L.A.

The U.S. reached the sad milestone of 100,000 deaths this week.

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STATEMENT ON THE LOCAL GEORGE FLOYD PROTESTS

Garccetti started tonight's briefing by expressing solidarity with national and local protesters.

"We saw a fellow American, George Floyd, killed before our eyes. He was killed when he should not have been. He is dead when he should be alive. He was murdered in cold blood in front of this nation," he said.

The mayor said it is important to him and his team to protect the right to protest and take the next step in listening to demands "to make sure this death was not in vain."

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