January 17, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Pasadena closes outdoor dining amid state orders

Pasadena became the last city in Los Angeles County to close outdoor dining on Sunday night, as most of California fell under the state’s sweeping regional stay-at-home order that temporarily bans the practice.

Lisa Derderian, a spokeswoman for the city, said restaurants served their last in-person meals until 10 p.m. They will be allowed to offer takeout and delivery, mirroring regulations that have been in place elsewhere in the county for nearly two weeks.

The city grabbed headlines in late November when it bucked a county health order temporarily suspending in-person dining at restaurants — along with bars, wineries, breweries — for at least three weeks.

Pasadena has its own Department of Public Health that can issue independent orders, but had generally followed the lead of the county — until city officials decided to break with the outdoor dining ban that took place elsewhere in the county on Nov. 25. Long Beach, which also has its own health department, issued an order restricting outdoor dining to match that of the county.

The state order, which was announced by Gov. Gavin Newsom last week and is tied to a region’s hospitalization capacity, supersedes Pasadena’s decision to keep outdoor dining in place.

“With Pasadena being the only city open for outdoor dining, [local restaurants] have had record-grossing weekends. That’s the good news,” Derderian said.

“The bad news,” she added, “is unfortunately now, during the holidays, to have employees that are going to be furloughed or laid off.”

County officials made the call to suspend outdoor dining as cases began to skyrocket. When the five-day average of new coronavirus cases hit 4,000, it triggered the ban. Since then, cases have continued to climb at unprecedented rates, with new cases in the county soaring past 10,500 on Sunday.

Swift backlash followed the ban, which opponents say could spell the end for restaurants and bars already struggling during the pandemic. Outdoor dining had offered a lifeline for some.

The California Restaurant Assn. sued to stop the ban, with a downtown L.A. restaurant, Engine Co. No. 28, filing a similar suit. Responding to the suit, a judge Wednesday ordered Los Angeles County public health officials to show scientific evidence justifying the ban, but stopped short of halting the ban. A decision on the case could come Tuesday afternoon, though it’s unclear if the outcome will have an impact now that the state order is in effect.

Meanwhile, more than 600 restaurants in Pasadena are adjusting to the new reality, Derderian said.

The news of the temporary dine-in ban arrives several weeks after Pasadena city officials opted to wind down a restaurant assistance program, called Great Plates Delivered, given strained local financial resources. It is set to run until early February.