It was our version of the end of Prohibition on Santa Monica Boulevard, in West Hollywood California, as people braved chilly weather and stood in long lines to get a taste of normalcy at several restaurants that opened for outdoor dining this past weekend. The Abbey and Rocco’s were notably busy with lines forming down the street, giving the Boulevard a pre-COVID feel as the Coronavirus pandemic continues to surge.
Los Angeles County ordered to suspend outdoor dining on November 25, 2020, a day before the Thanksgiving holiday. California Governor Gaven Newsom, lifted the state’s Stay-at-Home order last week and shortly after Los Angeles County announced that restaurants would be allowed to open this past Friday, January 29, 2021. Outdoor dining would only be allowed to reopen at 25% capacity. Personal care businesses such as hair/nail salons and barbershops were allowed to reopen for indoor operations following the announcement on Monday, January 25, 2021.
“We are hungry for normalcy. We are hungry to be with each other. We are hungry to sit, order food, talk, visit, love, cherish, create memories with one another – even in the midst of a deadly pandemic,” former West Hollywood city council member John Duran posted on his Facebook page this past Saturday. “I look forward to a dinner tomorrow night with my friend Kenny at some outdoor patio. Don’t know which. It doesn’t matter. Could be Chin Chin. Or Rocco’s. Or Mary’s. Or Bossa Nova. The food is secondary. It’s the seeing of friends and talking and laughing and gathering that my soul yearns for……”
Hospitality workers were just happy to be back in business, even if it was at a limited capacity and with a slew of safety guidelines.
Critics of the of the sudden reopening of outdoor dining have also taken to social media to condemn the restaurant group gatherings during the pandemic.
“Spitting in the face of those who’ve been sick, died, and who work on the front lines day in and day out.” posted Instagram user @LAjsun. “LA county is at 12% positivity (first shutdown in 2020 was at 5%), with slipshod vaccine distribution (1.25% have received BOTH doses) and 3 emerging variants. #covidots🤦🏻♂️”
“I don’t care if restaurants are opening for outdoor dining, I won’t be eating at them for a long while,” said Human Services Commissioner at City of West Hollywood, Jimmy Palmieri.
The Los Angeles Public Health Department reports the daily new cases, daily deaths, daily positivity rate and daily hospitalizations over the weekend as follows:
Sunday, January 31
Daily new cases: 5,925
Daily deaths: 124
Daily positivity rate (7-day avg): 9.3%
Daily hospitalizations: 5,328
Saturday, January 30
Daily new cases: 6,918
Daily deaths: 316
Daily positivity rate (7-day avg): 9.7%
Daily hospitalizations: 5,669
Friday, January 29
Daily new cases: 7,112
Daily deaths: 228
Daily positivity rate (7-day avg): 10.2%
Daily hospitalizations: 5,855
“We really need everyone, both businesses and individuals, playing by the rules to reduce transmission of COVID-19,” said Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of Public Health. “We all know if the precautions and safety measures are not followed, it is likely the County will again experience increases in cases, hospitalizations, and eventually deaths. The way to avoid this is for everyone to follow all of the public health directives all of the time. Transmission and risk are still very high and we are concerned about variants of the virus and what these may mean in our region. We absolutely don’t want to get to a place where have to close again, because that will mean more people are sick and more people will pass away. As vaccination of our healthcare workers and residents continues, we must continue the core public health actions that reduce transmission, save lives and get us back to re-opening up our schools for our children.”
This is a reminder that the City of West Hollywood has declared a local emergency in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Individuals are advised, at this time, to stay at home as much as possible and limit close interactions to those in your household. When in public for essential needs, community members should maintain your space with social (physical) distancing of at least six feet, and cover your face. Public Health officials recommend that everyone continue to follow physical distancing and infection control directives and wear a clean face covering that securely covers both your nose and mouth when in in public. Additionally, people 65 years old or older and all people of any age with underlying health conditions should remain at home whenever possible; people in these categories should only leave their residences to seek medical care, exercise, or obtain food or other necessities.
City of West Hollywood coronavirus updates are available at www.weho.org/coronavirus.