Shawn Raymundo, Dana Point Times
Following Southern California’s fall under a new stay-at-home order, requiring restaurants and eateries to focus solely on takeout services, State Sen. Patricia Bates and a bipartisan group of fellow lawmakers are urging Gov. Gavin Newsom to reclassify the restaurant industry as an essential service.
In a letter sent on Friday, Dec. 11, to Newsom’s office and signed by 11 state senators including Bates (R-Laguna Niguel), the group implored the governor to place restaurants under critical infrastructure “before even more damage is done to our communities.”
“The COVID-19 guidelines implemented by your Administration have had a devastating impact on the restaurants that provide critical jobs and revenue to our communities,” the letter stated. “Many restaurants have gone out of business, and now, with the approach of the winter and new guidelines that restrict indoor dining, many others will be forced to consider similar choices.”
The Southern California Region, including Orange County, was placed under a three-week, stay-at-home order beginning last week as coronavirus cases continued to skyrocket, causing a record number of hospitalizations and depleting capacity in intensive care units.
As of Thursday, Dec. 17, adjusted available ICU capacity in the region hit 0%. In Orange County on Wednesday, Dec. 16, it was also 0%.
Under the new stay-at-home restrictions, which are expected to last through at least Dec. 27, private gatherings and the mixing of households are prohibited, while mask-wearing is required in all sectors.
While all in-person dining, bars, breweries, wineries, hair salons and barbershops, and personal care services must remain closed, restaurants can still offer takeout and delivery. Retail and grocery stores can remain open with 20% customer capacity.
Though some eateries have complied with the order, switching to takeout services, many around San Clemente, namely in the downtown district, have continued to operate their outdoor dining sections in order to stay afloat.
A recent survey that the National Restaurant Association conducted found that 100,000 U.S. bars and restaurants have had to close their doors either permanently or for a long-term period. The staggering figure represents roughly 15% of the industry, news outlets reported.—Shawn Raymundo