‘F***ing INFURIATING’: LA adds outdoor dining to banned list as Covid-19 cases spike, pushes more restaurants to brink of failure

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Los Angeles County has tightened its crackdown on surging Covid-19 cases by banning outdoor dining, leaving many restaurateurs with little hope of survival after trying to tailor their businesses to previous pandemic restrictions.

The ban on in-person dining, which already had been limited to outdoor service, will go into effect on Wednesday at the county’s restaurants, bars, wineries and breweries. The order will remain in effect for at least three weeks, the county’s government announced late Sunday. There were more than 4,500 new Covid-19 cases reported in the county on Saturday alone, compared with a daily average of about 1,000 a month earlier.

The move is devastating for restaurant owners, who already have suffered through a year of lockdowns, violent protests, a tourism collapse, and tight reopening restrictions. KTLA 5 reporter Christina Pascucci pointed out that many restaurants invested heavily to focus on outdoor service and were counting on Thanksgiving week, traditionally one of their busiest times of year, to bring in more revenue.

Celebrity restaurateur David Chang said even those businesses that are able to survive until spring face a long road to recovery, as the changing Covid-19 restrictions were even more crippling than a continual lockdown would have been.

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“Nothing will be the same,” Chang tweeted. “Entire independent industry is forever changed in a negative way. It’s f***ing infuriating.” He added that the latest order shows those who work in the restaurant industry what they’ve already known about their inept government overseers through nine months of pandemic: “We don’t give a f*** about you.”

Celebrity chef Andrew Gruel pointed out the hypocrisy of the latest ban, saying that people are allowed to eat side-by-side while crammed onto a commercial airline flight, but can’t dine in an open-air setting. “Get ready for your local Walmart pop-up restaurant,” he quipped.

Data expert Justin Hart said Los Angeles County’s contract-tracing figures show that only 3.1 percent of tracked Covid-19 cases originated in restaurants, compared with 15 percent in grocery stores and 7.3 percent in government buildings. Restaurants ranked just outside of the top 10, and more than 99 percent of their cases involved staff, not customers.

Conservative radio host Dennis Prager said Americans must defy “tyrannical orders” like the new Los Angeles County dining ban. “It’s all done in the name of health,” he said. “Safety-ism it’s called. So don’t listen.”

But some Californians were glad to see the dining ban. “Thanks for actually doing something,” photographer Ashley Osborn said. Screenwriter Garon Cockrell, a Black Lives Matter supporter, lamented that the Covid-19 restrictions haven’t been made strict enough: “Continuing to do the bare minimum every time. Shut down everything.”

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