Los Angeles will temporarily close all restaurants, bars, nightclubs, entertainment venues, and gyms throughout the city from midnight until at least March 31 as part of the its efforts to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the news on Sunday via a video conference where he praised residents for being “strong” and “resilient,” and stressed the importance of practicing social distancing and avoiding non-essential travel.
“I know these have been incredibly tough days for our city and our residents. Let me start by thanking everybody for your reliance, your incredible generosity, and for keeping calm in the face of a threat unlike any we’ve ever seen before,” Garcetti said.
“Our decisions will determine the fate of loved ones, our decisions and actions will determine the length of this crisis, the damage that is done to our economy and ultimately how quickly we will get back up on our feet.”
“I signed an order tonight that will prevent people from doing the following; it prevents people from gathering in close proximity by banning and closing our bars and nightclubs. Second, restaurants and retail facilities, we will now have prohibited on-site food but permitted for delivery, takeout and drive-through.
“Again, restaurants will be closed for dining inside those restaurants,” Garcetti reiterated, before encouraging “all Angelenos to help support these critical small businesses—the restaurants we love in our neighborhoods — by continuing to order from them [by] getting takeout or delivery.”
Groceries, pharmacies, and food banks will be except from the order. A moratorium on evictions for renters was also announced in his speech.
The mayor also called on Houses of Worship to close, saying, “We have an incredible Constitution and a First Amendment, so while we can’t mandate that churches, mosques, or synagogues close, please, we are asking you to close them.”
Los Angeles County health officials confirmed 16 new coronavirus cases by midday Sunday, bringing the county total to 69. Ten of the 69 cases are “likely due to community transmission,” the county health department said, adding that all confirmed cases are being isolated and close contacts are quarantined.
Garcetti’s announcement comes shortly after California Governor Gavin Newsom called on all bars, pubs, breweries, and wineries in California to shut down over the coronavirus, adding that there will be new restrictions on restaurants.
Restaurants will have their occupancy levels cut in half, he announced on Sunday night in a press conference, adding that people need to distance from one another. Senior citizens, people aged 65 and older, are asked to stay at home unless they have an emergency reason.
“We believe this is a nonessential function in our state,” Newsom said of bars. “And we believe that is appropriate under the circumstances to move in that direction.”
Around 335 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, have been confirmed in California, said Newsom. Six deaths have been confirmed so far.
Jack Phillips contributed to this report.