Los Angeles’s New Reopening Order More Restrictive On Movie Theaters Than State Guidelines – Updated

UPDATED with latest: While Los Angeles County qualified to move into the least-restrictive Yellow tier of the state’s economic reopening blueprint today, the region decided to wait until Thursday to relax guidelines. The county did, however, issue a new set of Yellow-tier guidelines set to take effect tomorrow.

The new L.A. guidance does, as promised, mostly mirror California’s, there are a few key differences. California issued an Addendum to its Blueprint for a Safer Reopening last month that allows movie theaters to reopen to 75% capacity in the Yellow tier if all customers are fully vaccinated, per chart below.

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CA health officials confirmed to Deadline the chart applies to movie theaters, zoos and museums. The new Los Angeles guidelines make no mention of increasing theater capacity to 75%, though they do allow zoos and museums to reopen indoors at 75%.

Wednesday’s new L.A. County Health Officer order sets guidelines for specific sectors as follows:

Movie Theatres can operate at 50% capacity. Reserved seating only where each group is seated with at least 6 feet of distance between any other groups (in all directions); capacity is limited to ensure that there is at least 6 feet of distance between groups. Seating sections can be established for fully vaccinated people without 6 feet distancing requirements provided there is 3 feet of distance between these sections and other seats in the theatre. Eating is allowed in only designated areas or in your reserved seat.

Amusement/Theme Parks/Fairs can increase capacity to 35%. Fully vaccinated out of state visitors are permitted.

Museums, Zoos and Aquariums can be open indoors at 75% capacity with safety modifications.

Bars that do not provide meals can operate indoors at 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer. Masking always required, except when eating or drinking; drinking and eating only while seated. Tables must be at least 6 feet apart and no counter seating/service. Maximum of 6 people from one household per table; if everyone in a group is vaccinated, 6 people can sit together from up to 6 different households. TV viewing is permitted. No live entertainment permitted indoors. Outdoors tables can have a maximum 8 persons per table from up to 3 different households; if everyone in a group is vaccinated, 8 people sit together from up to 8 different households. Live entertainment and TV viewing permitted outdoors. No counter seating/service.

Breweries, Wineries, Distilleries that do not serve meals can increase indoors capacity to 50% or 200 people, whichever is fewer. No live entertainment permitted indoors. These establishments will follow the same public health directives as bars for their outdoor areas.

Restaurants can increase capacity for indoor dining to 50% capacity with continued safety modifications. There must be 6 feet distancing between tables. Maximum of 6 people from one household per table; if everyone in a group is vaccinated, 6 people can sit together from up to 6 different households

Cardrooms/Racetracks/Satellite Wagering Facilities can operate indoors at 50% capacity. There must be 6-feet of distancing between tables and masks are always required. Food and beverages remain banned at the tables.

Fitness Centers can operate indoors at 50% capacity. Masks are always required unless swimming.

Family Entertainment Centers can operate at 50% capacity, 75% if all guests are tested or show proof of full vaccination. Masks are required.

Grocery and Retail Stores capacity remains limited to 75% with continued requirement for distancing of at least 6 feet between customers.

Hair Salons, Barbershops and Personal Care Services can operate at 75% capacity with masks required, except for services where customers need to remove their masks. For services where customers must remove their face coverings, staff must wear a fitted N95 mask or a face covering with a face shield.

Waterparks can operate at 40% capacity with safety modifications.

Youth and Adult Recreational Sports and Community Sporting Events can apply to Public Health for approval for athletic events, tournaments or competitions that involve more than two teams or multiple individuals. Indoor moderate and high contact sports are permitted following Collegiate Sports Protocols, which includes regular testing.

Indoor Venues for Live Events and Performances may welcome up to 1,500 guests, operate at a maximum of 25% capacity or 50% if guests are tested or show proof of full vaccination. Venues with 1,501 guests and above can operate at 10% capacity of 2,000 people; whichever is fewer or 50% capacity for tested or fully vaccinated guests.
Outdoor Venues for Live Events and Performances can expand to 67% capacity with safety modifications.

PREVIOUSLY at 4 p.m.: While Los Angeles County will wait until tomorrow to loosen business restrictions in accordance with its move into the least-restrictive Yellow tier of the state’s economic-reopening blueprint, Pasadena and Long Beach enacted eased guidelines today, including the reopening of indoor bars.

Weekly statistics released by the state Tuesday showed L.A. county’s rate of daily new Covid-19 infections has fallen to 1.6 per 100,000 residents, down from 1.9 last week. Reaching the Yellow tier of the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy requires a county to have a new-case rate less than 2 per 100,000 residents, and maintain that level for two consecutive weeks.

Los Angeles is the only Southern California county to advance to the Yellow tier. The rest of the region will remain in the Orange tier. Although the county officially qualified on Wednesday, it will not ease restrictions until Thursday.

Long Beach and Pasadena are in L.A. County, but both cities have their own health departments which issue separate orders. The cities quickly revised their local health orders and enacted eased Yellow-tier restrictions effective 12:01 a.m. Wednesday. The cities both aligned with state guidelines.

Entering the Yellow tier primarily allows higher capacity limits at most businesses. Under state guidelines, fitness centers, cardrooms, wineries and breweries, for instance, can increase indoor attendance to 50% of capacity, up from the current 25%; bars can open indoors at 25%; outdoor venues such as Dodger Stadium can increase capacity to 67%, up from the current 33%; and amusement parks can allow 35%, up from 25%.

Counties are permitted to impose tougher restrictions than the state allows, and Los Angeles County has done so occasionally during the pandemic. But Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Monday the county plans to largely align with state Yellow-tier guidelines. Ferrer said those guidelines would be released on Wednesday.

In a statement announcing the move, Pasadena officials urged residents to continue exercising caution.

“Residents are reminded to stay diligent about COVID-19 protocols including wearing a mask in public, frequent hand washing, keeping distance from others, and staying home if you feel sick, even if you have been vaccinated,” according to the city. “The public is strongly urged to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”

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As of April 30, just more than 8 million doses of vaccine had been administered in Los Angeles County, including roughly 5 million first doses and 3 million second doses. Ferrer said that roughly 37% of the county’s eligible population is fully vaccinated, meaning they have received both doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. She said 65% of residents aged 65 and older are fully vaccinated.

The county on Tuesday announced 18 new Covid-19 deaths, following two consecutive days of no deaths. Those two days were attributed to lags in reporting from the weekend. According to county records, the last time there were no daily pandemic deaths recorded in L.A. was on March 18, 2020. That was also the last time there were two consecutive days with zero Covid-related deaths in the region. There were only 15 such deaths statewide on Monday.

On Saturday, L.A. County’s test positivity rate was at the lowest level of the pandemic: 0.6%.

The county also reported another 273 Covid cases on Tuesday, while Long Beach health officials added 38 and Pasadena two, bringing the overall pandemic total to 1,234,242.

According to state figures, there were 387 people hospitalized due to Covid in L.A. County as of Wednesday, down from 400 on Tuesday, with 93 people in intensive care, down from 97 Tuesday.

California Governor Gavin Newsom said on Monday that the state’s number of Covid-related hospitalizations is at an all-time low since the start of the pandemic. Coronavirus patients in CA were down from a January peak of nearly 23,000 to 1,626 on Monday.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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