LOS ANGELES - After being closed for months, restaurants in Los Angeles County are now permitted to resume outdoor dining services. But they will be facing new restrictions… including turning off or removing all televisions from customer seating areas.
Health officials say the reason behind removing TVs is to prevent gatherings of sports fans, especially since the Super Bowl is coming up.
"Televisions or any other screens that are used to broadcast programming must be removed from the area or turned off. This provision is effective until further notice,'' the health order stated.
County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer noted concerns about the upcoming Super Bowl leading to large gatherings, similar to when the Dodgers won the World Series and when the Lakers won the NBA Championship.
She says people were gathering at private parties and restaurants to watch those games and she doesn’t want that to happen again.
"We know that Super Bowl Sunday is coming up, and we can't repeat the mistakes of the past,'' Ferrer said. "It will be tragic if the Super Bowl becomes a super-spreader of coronavirus.''
In addition to temporarily banning TVs, the county's revised Health Officer Order also reinstates previous restrictions on outdoor dining, requiring servers to wear masks and face shields, limiting restaurants to 50% of patio capacity, limiting tables to no more than six people and requiring tables to be at least eight feet apart.
Many restaurant owners we spoke to say they plan to take it slow and limit full services by offering take out on Super Bowl Sunday as well as for Valentine’s Day. They say they are worried about being shut down again.
The order encourages, but does not mandate, seating to be done by advance reservation. It urges restaurants to notify customers "to call in advance to confirm outdoor seating/serving capacity, where possible.''
Restaurants also must collect contact information from customers in case there's a future need to reach out in contact-tracing efforts.
City News Service contributed to this report