Los Angeles County again eased its COVID-19 health restrictions Friday, allowing indoor playgrounds and arcades to reopen at limited capacity, while lifting restrictions on operating hours for bars, breweries and wineries.
Indoor arcades and playgrounds -- such as laser tag businesses, ball pits or “bounce” centers -- will be restricted to 25% capacity, along with other mandated safety modifications.
Bars, which are currently allowed to operate outdoors only, had been restricted to operating hours of 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., but those restrictions are now lifted.
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The easing of restrictions, however, comes amid continued concern about the slowing pace of vaccinations in the county. In a statement Friday, county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer again stressed the urgency for people to get inoculated, while also continuing to adhere to other health guidelines to prevent a resurgence of the virus locally.
“We must continue to be careful and take sensible precautions in the weeks ahead while we vaccinate more people, especially as we look to move to the least restrictive tier in the State's Blueprint for a Safer Economy framework,” she said. “While fully vaccinated people can participate in some activities because of the protection vaccinations give them, it is critically important that we continue to wear masks, avoid crowds and encourage everyone to get fully vaccinated -- both first and second doses.”
“The majority of people in Los Angeles County are not fully vaccinated and some are not able to be vaccinated,” she said. “Getting fully vaccinated against COVID-19 is effective at preventing serious illness and death and protects our entire community.”
The county is expected to reach the least-restrictive yellow tier of the state's Blueprint for a Safer Economy when updated statistics are released on Tuesday. Ferrer said if the county does qualify for the move, a new health order with more relaxed restrictions will be published Wednesday, taking effect Thursday.
Entering the yellow tier will primarily allow higher capacity limits at most businesses. Fitness centers, cardrooms, wineries and breweries, for instance, would be permitted to increase indoor capacity to 50%, up from the current 25%; bars would be able to open indoors at 25%; outdoor venues such as Dodger Stadium could increase capacity to 67%, up from the current 33%; and amusement parks could allow 35%, up from 25%.
The county also revised its health order this week to incorporate changes in mask-wearing guidelines recommended this week for fully vaccinated people by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The revisions also state that surveillance COVID-19 testing is no longer recommended for fully vaccinated people, unless they work at skilled nursing facilities or other high-risk settings, are traveling internationally or are required by a particular business or facility.
The county reported another 21 COVID-19 deaths on Friday, raising the cumulative total since the pandemic began to 23,890. Another 405 cases were confirmed by the county, lifting the overall number from throughout the pandemic to 1,233,060.
According to state figures, there were 414 people hospitalized in the county as of Friday, down from 420 on Thursday, with 88 people in intensive care, down from 98 on Thursday.