In the past week, pessimism about the return of a new coronavirus surge throughout Southern California and beyond, this is burning rapidly through most unvaccinated groups due to the much more communicable (and possibly more) heavy) Delta variant. And while the soaring numbers of COVID-19 cases and hospital admissions are a long way from the alarming heights of the incredibly deadly surge last winter, they are back on top of last summer’s numbers. On July 13, 2020 – and with numbers in line with today – Governor Gavin Newsom announced a nationwide closure of the indoor restaurant just weeks after a widespread reopening.
And in particular, some of the county’s largest confirmed COVID-19 outbreaks in the workplace are occurring in restaurants and bars in the current spike in the summer of 2021.
According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and Compiled by independent journalist Lexis-Olivier Ray, half of the top 10 confirmed outbreak locations (these are non-residential workplaces with at least three or more confirmed and tested cases of COVID-19) are in LA County in the hospitality industry. At the top of the list is Bottega Louie in West Hollywood with 10 cases, closely followed by Bootsy Bellows (also in West Hollywood) with nine cases.
Other badly hit restaurants and bars include the new Bicyclette Restaurant on Pico Boulevard (five falls); Meet in Paris at Culver City (seven cases); Pace Restaurant in Laurel Canyon (Seven Falls); and Seven Grand Bar in Downtown LA (Seven Falls). The full list of jobs with confirmed outbreaks you’ll find here.
There is a growing belief that some nationwide upheaval is imminent – including a mandatory mask requirement for all indoor activities (which Los Angeles County has already introduced). Local and state officials could also start again limiting indoor spaces for retail and restaurant environments or taking stricter measures if cases continue to rise above their current 7-day rolling average of more than 2,400 cases per day.
What does this mean directly for bars and restaurants in Los Angeles and the greater Southern California area? This is an open question at the moment, although officials have previously said that „everything is on the table if it gets worse”. It’s also important to note that, unlike previous shutdowns and reopening rollbacks, this surge is due to the wide availability of vaccines – although not all cases counted are from unvaccinated individuals. So-called breakthrough caseswhere a vaccinated person becomes infected with the coronavirus and has mild symptoms but can still pass the virus to others are rare but are becoming more common, raising further concerns that persistent coronavirus mutations will produce more vaccine-resistant variants could.
It’s also worth noting that while Los Angeles County has a relatively high vaccination rate, the region is still a long way from achieving full herd immunity, which some health officials believe is only emerging about 75 percent or more a general population is vaccinated. In addition, many people (including children and some immunocompromised people) are currently unable to receive the vaccine, which puts them at increased risk if the Delta variant spreads.
Many bars and restaurants, both local and national, have already started closing their doors to customers who cannot confirm their vaccination status (or show evidence of a recent negative COVID-19 test) for everyone’s safety ensure inside. That’s especially true for employees, considering that during the height of the California winter wave, being a chef was the deadliest job in the state.
Other operators across the country Continue to wait with bated breath to see how disastrous this recent surge is going to be, especially as the United States continues to experience it Hesitation in the vaccine in many communities and the increased likelihood of virus transmission that always occurs in the fall and winter months. The good news is that the total number of COVID-19 deaths remains low (for now), but as the total number of cases and hospital admissions continues to rise, the total death toll is likely to follow suit.
Restaurants, bars and other areas of hospitality currently remain open at full capacity (with indoor masks) as operators continue to face enormous pandemic-related issues such as low staffing levels, logistical challenges and high product prices, as well as increasing fears that this growing surge will come at dire costs could lead to public health and small businesses.