Dire situation for restaurants

A restaurant in Oakland remains closed on Sept. 1, 2020. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

As Thanksgiving approaches, the mood in California isn’t too festive.

Los Angeles County, which will ban outdoor dining starting Wednesday, is considering another stay-at-home-order that would bar residents from leaving their homes unless they’re essential workers or accessing essential services. Ninety-four percent of California residents are currently under a curfew, and more could join them today, the state’s top health official warned Monday. And Gov. Gavin Newsom, still under fire for the French Laundry debacle, is quarantining at home at a critical inflection point for the state.

Amid a 77% increase in hospitalizations and 55% increase in intensive-care admissions, tensions are flaring up across the state. Protests against the curfew broke out in Huntington BeachReddingFresno and other cities. A surge in weekend gun violence propelled Los Angeles to surpass 300 homicides in one year for the first time in a decade. Unemployment claims are rising again. Late-night and Los Angeles restaurants that had counted on remaining open over the Thanksgiving holiday are now facing massive losses for outdoor tents and heaters they won’t be able to use.

And although many county sheriffs aren’t enforcing the curfew, the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control is threatening noncompliant restaurants and bars with fines or revoked liquor licenses. It’s yet another frustration for restaurants, a group of which sued government agencies last month to recoup millions in liquor, health and tourism fees.

Although 61% of Californians said they approved of Newsom’s handling of the pandemic in October, the French Laundry fiasco has reignited a longshot attempt to recall Newsom. Meanwhile, the Secretary of State on Friday cleared for circulation a 2022 ballot initiative that would limit the government’s authority amid public health emergencies.

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The coronavirus bottom line: As of 9 p.m. Monday night, California had 1,110,370 confirmed coronavirus cases and 18,726 deaths from the virus, according to a CalMatters tracker.

 CalMatters.org is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California policies and politics.

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