Restaurants in Los Angeles were recently given the green light to open their dine-in services to the public after more than ten weeks of shutdown restrictions.
Now, restaurants can serve sit-down customers as long as they follow guidelines such as; making sure customers are 6 feet apart, the customers wear face masks when not eating, keep disposable menus, thoroughly disinfect dining areas after each customer, and open at a maximum 60% capacity.
What is the L.A. Al Fresco Initiative
To make it easier for restaurants to maintain the social distancing guidelines, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a new dining initiative called L.A. Al Fresco, which allows restaurants to serve their customers on public sidewalks and private parking lots.
This program is available to all restaurants in Los Angeles City as long as they adhere to guidelines provided. In his evening press conference on May 29, 2020, mayor Garcetti said, “Through L.A. Al Fresco, the city will offer temporary, no-cost allowances for restaurants to provide outdoor dining on sidewalks and private parking lots, and the program may expand to streets in the future.” The program was also implemented immediately.
The mayor’s announcement came after the Los Angeles County was permitted by the California State on Friday to open restaurants and barbershops in hair salons.
According to the mayor, L.A. Al Fresco’s main objective is to help restaurants open while helping their customers and employees maintain social distancing rules recommended by public health officials.
Mayor Garcetti said that L.A. Al Fresco is a big step forward in revitalizing the L.A. economy after the COVID-19 pandemic and supporting local businesses, especially ones that rely on foot traffic to thrive.
In the recently released guidelines for restaurants, restraints in the City of L.A. can only operate at a limited capacity of 60%. The mayor acknowledged in his press conference that ‘it is hard for restaurants to make a profit at a 60% capacity”.
L.A. Al Fresco program will help restaurants expand their footprint, increase their visibility, and realize more income due to the expanded seating capacity. The mayor hopes that expanding outdoor dining will bring in more customers in a meaningful and safe way.
Garcetti was keen to add that the program is ‘subject to approval,’ and restaurants shouldn’t just drag tables outside but instead wait for approval from the City.
Fortunately, restaurant owners can quickly fill the application form at the city government website and receive their approval the same day. All restaurants in L.A. Are eligible.
The temporary L.A. Al Fresco permits will expire after 90 days or on September 1, 2020, whichever comes first. Restaurants will be given a chance to reapply for new temporary permits after that.
L.A. restaurants with existing alcohol permits are allowed to serve alcohol on the approved outdoor dining areas, subject to approval from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC).
L.A. Al Fresco program seems to align with the Alcoholic Beverage Control board, which had previously announced that it plans to allow alcohol consumption outside on sidewalks and parking lots.
Mayor Garcetti says that at its heart, the L.A. Al Fresco program is about saving both lives and livelihoods. The city is in the process of collecting Expressions of Interest to expand the program too; street parking spaces, street closures, and partial street closures.
Pasadena, a sister county to Los Angeles, has a similar plan for outdoor dining on parking lots.