Some of the hardest-hit industries in Los Angeles are breathing a sigh of relief this week. After California hit its vaccination goal, businesses like gyms, indoor restaurants, and movie theaters were told it’s time to reopen – safely and thoughtfully. Now, some of the most devastated businesses in Los Angeles will be able to get back on their feet and back on the path to recovery.
Vaccination Milestone Hit – Time to Reopen!
California has been devastated by the COVID pandemic. As a result, reopening of public businesses was reliant upon enough residents receiving their vaccination, lowering the risk of deadly transmission in the population. As of Friday, KTLA reports that California did indeed meet their goal of vaccinating 2 million residents in hardest-hit counties. Due to reaching this extraordinary milestone, restrictions have been loosened across the state. LA Times reported last week, “Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties joined 10 others — Contra Costa, Sonoma, Placer, Mendocino, San Benito, Tuolumne, Siskiyou, Amador, Colusa and Mono — in moving to the less restrictive red reopening tier. The 13 counties are home to 17.7 million Californians, meaning that by Monday when L.A. County gives the green light, about 45% of the state’s population will be able to eat inside a restaurant, visit a museum or take a yoga class indoors.
In addition to offering indoor dining, counties in the red tier are permitted to resume showings at movie theaters at 25% capacity, welcome students in seventh through 12th grades back to campuses, reopen indoor gyms at 10% capacity, and expand capacity restrictions at nonessential stores and libraries. Museums, zoos and aquariums also can reopen indoor operations, at 25% capacity.”
LA County published this list for further guidance to it’s residents: “On Friday, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health plans to issue a new Health Officer Order allowing for restaurants to reopen for outdoor dining with occupancy limits and masking requirements for all staff. The department will also rescind the hours of operation restrictions for non-essential businesses, which have been required close from 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
Allowable starting today:
- Private gatherings: Limited to 3 households & total of 15 persons; outdoors only.
- Family Entertainment Centers: Open for outdoor operations (50%).
- Museums, zoos, aquariums: Open for outdoor operations.
- Cardrooms: Outdoor operations at 50%.
- Miniature golf, go karts, batting cages: Outdoor operations at 50%.
- Outdoor recreational activity: Open.
- Hotels, Motels Tourism and individual travel: allowed.
- Fitness facilities: Open for outdoor operations.
- Personal care: Open at 25% indoor capacity.
- Indoor mall, shopping center, lower-risk retail: Open at 25% indoor capacity; food courts and common areas closed.”
Restaurants in LA Hit Hard by Restrictive Preventative Measures
Businesses that rely upon people interacting in large groups have been hit hard by COVID-related restrictions. The hospitality industry in general has suffered staggering losses over the past 12 months. However, in LA County, one of the biggest challenges for restaurant owners has been the yo-yo between open and closed.
John Connor, owner of the historic dinner theater restaurant Tudor House in Lake Arrowhead, told the LA Times that while they’re glad to be open, uncertainty is hard on a business. “‘Restaurants can’t be yo-yoed like that: hire staff, let them go, buy food, throw it out,’ Connor said. ‘Another shutdown is a good possibility, and 25% doesn’t make any profit — but eventually you’ve got to pay for the rent.’”
Elsewhere, however, they’re grateful for even 25%. KTLA reports, “Local eatery, Bella Serra Trattoria in Monrovia, was forced to lay off 90% of its staff amid the closures that dried up business.
‘It was a very difficult time for all of us, and so many businesses didn’t make it through both closures,’ said Alfonso Gioia of Bella Serra Trattoria. ‘We’re lucky enough to be here.’
Gioia said being able to reopen indoors again, even if its just at 25% capacity, means that the restaurant can bring more staff back on.”
A number of businesses have failed to uphold restrictions over the past few months and have been cited. They may be high risk to patronize for the time being, but most businesses are happy to comply with restrictions if it means better safety for their customers and eventual recovery.
Recovery is a Long Road – but the Journey Has Begun
Assuming the vaccination trend continues as it has and deadly cases decline in Los Angeles, this could be the first step towards recovery across not just the county, but the state. It’s been a long, dark year in a city based around public venues and tourism, and many businesses didn’t survive to see the other side.
But those that have are ready to move forward, even if it means complying with restrictions for a little while longer. One gym owner suggests that it may be several years before things are completely back to pre-pandemic business models. Per KTLA, “In Sierra Madre, the owner of Sierra Fitness, Sandy Duvall, said she doesn’t think the fitness center will be able to completely resume indoor operations for some time.
‘It’s gonna be a long time before we’re going to be able to open up 100%,’ Duvall said. ‘We need the outdoor gym for the next year or two years,’ she said.”
Famous dining locale Craig’s LA posted joyfully about the reopening on Instagram, but were mindful of the hard times people have been through; “It’s officially been a year since we shutdown! As we prepare to reopen our minds are on all we have gone through this year! On behalf of our entire staff – we are making a donation to the LA Food Bank. #gratitude.”
Orange County Supervisor Don Wagner spoke with the LA Times over the weekend, suggesting that despite the long-haul approach to recovery, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and people are starting to hope. Per the LA Times, “‘The people I’ve talked to over the course of the last couple days, knowing that the red tier is coming and we’re able to do much more, just seem to have more of a bounce in their step,’ he said. ‘I think there’s a genuine optimism out there nowadays that the worst days of the pandemic are behind us.’”