Indoor Dining To Return, Movie Theaters To Reopen – CBS Los Angeles

BURBANK (CBSLA) – Los Angeles County will officially move into the state’s less-restrictive red tier on Monday, with the state achieving a milestone of 2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses in hard-hit communities.

“We already know that we’re gonna go to Gus’ BBQ in South Pasadena because we love that place and they’ve been closed forever!” said Helena Vlahos of Monrovia. 

Brandi Harrapence, right, enjoys lunch with her daughter Kayla Harrapence inside Firestone Grill in the heart of downtown San Luis Obispo, Calif., open for inside dinning for the first time in nearly a year as San Luis Obispo county moved into the red tier on March 3, 2021. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times/Getty Images).

After spending more than six months in the purple and most restrictive tier of the state’s reopening metrics, Los Angeles County qualified Friday to officially move into the red tier on Monday.

Los Angeles County officials said the move out of the red will be effective at 12:01 a.m. Monday, meaning indoor dining can return and movie theaters and indoor fitness centers can reopen, all at limited capacity.

“It’s scary going into this world not really knowing what’s gonna happen bc you get info one day and then a couple of days later it changes,” said J.D. Friedman of Basin 141. 

Restaurants will be able to open indoors at 25% capacity under L.A. County’s guidelines, released Thursday. There must be eight feet of distance between tables with a limit of six people per table. Only members of the same household can sit together. Restaurant servers are already required to wear both a face mask and a face shield.

“It’s really cold outside, and to be able to come inside, it’ll open up our opportunity to serve more people,” Chef George Marin with Burbank’s Great Grill told CBSLA Friday.

Martin has fought to hang on, with three of the four other businesses on his block shutting down.

“We’re hurting, but we’re still here and we love our customers, so to have a few come in is a great start, and hopefully by spring or summer we’re getting back to normal again,” Martin said.

Movie theaters, meanwhile, will be allowed to open indoors at 25% capacity. Retail and personal care services will be allowed to increase capacity to 50% with masking required.

Museums, zoos and aquariums can open indoors at 25% capacity. Gyms, fitness centers, yoga and dance studios will be able to open indoors at 10% capacity.

Some business owners were skeptical about the news.

“I’ve learned in this environment not to get too excited about anything,” said Misty Mansouri Thursday, owner of the Lady Byrd Cafe in Echo Park. 

State health leaders also announced Thursday that breweries, wineries and distilleries can reopen outdoors, even if they do not serve food. However, this does not apply to bars in purple and red tiers.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom had confirmed Wednesday that L.A. County could be upgraded to the red tier by Friday, when the state is slated to meet the goal of administering two million COVID-19 vaccines in low-income, hard-hit communities across California.

L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said it will take 48 hours after the state announces the vaccination threshold is met for the county to officially move into the red tier. If the goal is met by Friday, the county could advance as early as Sunday or Monday.

RELATED: LA County Marks Anniversary Of 1st COVID Death, Prepares To Expand Vaccine Eligibility

Under a plan announced last week, once the state hits the 2-million-dose milestone in low-income communities, the state’s “Blueprint for a Safer Economy” that governs business reopenings will be adjusted, making it easier for counties to advance through the four-tier matrix.

When that mark is met, counties will be able to move out of the most restrictive “purple” tier of the blueprint when their average rate of daily new COVID-19 infections reaches 10 per 100,000 residents — a looser standard than the current 7 per 100,000 residents.

“I would hope they would let us get open as quickly as possible it’s been a really tough roller coaster year people, in general, give us a sense of normalcy,” said Jesse Gomez Thursday, a restaurant owner.

As of Wednesday, the state had administered 1,926,968 doses in hard-hit communities.

“L.A. will be a big beneficiary of this new metric that likely will be met on Friday,” Newsom said Wednesday while speaking in South Gate. “And moving through the weekend and into next week, you will see more activity, more loosening of the tiers.”

The red tier gives permission for counties, if they so choose, to reopen indoor restaurant dining at 25% capacity, fitness centers at 10% capacity and movie theaters and museums at 25% capacity, while also increasing capacity at retail stores and shopping malls.

It also allows theme parks such as Disneyland in Orange County and Universal Studios Hollywood in Los Angeles County to reopen at 15% of capacity, with in-state visitors only.

L.A. County’s current coronavirus case rate currently sits at 5.2 daily cases per 100,000 residents.

On Friday, the county’s Public Health department confirmed 101 new deaths and 947 new cases of COVID-19, making up a cumulative 1,208,913 positive cases of COVID-19 in L.A. County and 22,404 deaths.

Current hospitalizations stand at 1,015 coronavirus patients, and among them, 28 percent are in intensive carte.

As of Friday, the daily test positivity rate is 2 percent, L.A. County officials said.

Orange County would also qualify to move into the red tier. Its case rate is 6 per 100,000.

Asked Wednesday whether indoor dining will be permitted, Ferrer was non-committal, saying discussions were continuing with the Board of Supervisors and the restaurant sector.

“We’re looking at what is happening across the state, we’re looking at what we’ve learned about what can create as much safety as possible when people are indoors,” she said.

On Tuesday, two members of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors – Janice Hahn and Kathryn Barger — said they support fully aligning with state guidelines, including indoor dining.

As of last Friday, 2,415,460 doses of COVID vaccine have been administered in L.A. County. That includes 814,593 second doses, representing the number of people who have been fully vaccinated.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)