LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Los Angeles County has qualified to move into the least-restrictive yellow tier of California’s coronavirus reopening blueprint.
The county officially entered the yellow tier last week, but the economic repercussions of the pandemic are still causing some bar and restaurant owners problems.
“This is the first time I’ve left my house in a very long time to be social,” said Jessica York Thursday at a restaurant near the Hermosa Beach pier.
Entering the yellow tier allows bars to reopen indoors at 25%. It is the first time that bars have reopened indoors since early July of 2020.
But just because bars are allowed to reopen or expand capacity, does not mean that they can, as some are facing labor shortages, after many establishments were forced to lay off employees when revenues were down.
“We’re short-staffed currently and we’re finding a lot of people don’t really want to go back to work, or this type of work,” said Margaret Feeney, a server in Hermosa Beach.
Many customers are still hesitant to go inside restaurants and bars.
“Having live music and being outside is fantastic,” said Chris Ryan Thursday.
General view of La Condesa Restaurant on April 22, 2021 in Santa Monica, Calif. (Getty Images)
“When we bought this bar, it was five months before they shut us down,” said Camila Perry owner of the North End in Hollywood. “We have been waiting for this for a year.”
Sisters Janice and Mia Carter who were eating lunch outdoors said they have mixed feelings about bellying up to a bar now that L.A. County has advanced into the yellow tier.
“I’m pretty open to it. I’m excited things are getting back to normal,” Mia said.
However, her sister Janice said, “Me personally, I don’t feel comfortable.”
To qualify for the yellow tier, a county must have less than 2.0 cases per 100,000 residents, and it must maintain that for two weeks.
Fitness centers, cardrooms, wineries and breweries will be allowed to increase indoor capacity to 50%.
Outdoor sporting venues, such as Dodger Stadium, can increase capacity to 67%. Amusement parks, such as Universal Studios, can increase capacity from 25% to 35%.
“This has been a long and difficult journey and we are so heartened to arrive at this latest milestone,” the L.A. County Board of Supervisors said in a statement. “Entering the Yellow Tier means we have reached the next-to-last stage before fully reopening, and this is another welcome sign we are moving toward a safe and healthy new normal, one that is guided by hope rather than fear. This new tier matches the sunny optimism of the season. Now it’s up to all of us to keep up the good work. It’s never been easier to get vaccinated, and that is the single most important action you can take to protect yourself, your family, and your community. Continuing to make smart choices now moves us closer to fully enjoy all the wonderful things that Los Angeles County has to offer.”
On Tuesday, L.A. County reported 273 newly confirmed cases and 18 additional deaths, bringing countywide totals to 1,234,202 cases and 23,930 deaths. There were 386 COVID-19 patients hospitalized, 25% of whom were being treated in intensive care units.
Despite the optimistic outlook, L.A. County health officials are also seriously concerned about a decline in vaccination rates, however. Ferrer provided figures Monday showing that for the week ending April 23, 611,592 doses were administered in the county. Last week, however, only 467,134 doses were administered, representing a 24% drop.
She said that roughly 37% of L.A. County’s population is now considered fully vaccinated. Health officials have said the county needs to get to an 80% vaccination rate to reach so-called “herd immunity.”
Ferrer said she is less focused on that 80% figure as she is about getting accurate information out about the effectiveness of the vaccines and making it easier for people to get them.
“I’m not as much worried about what’s the number for herd immunity, and do we get there and what that concept really needs to mean, as I am about we’ve got a powerful vaccine, we’re hopeful that more and more people will continue to come and get vaccinated and (we) want to make that as easy as possible.”