Friday, April 3

LA Mayor Garcetti orders closure of bars and restaurants to slow spread of COVID-19

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti signed an executive order Sunday closing all bars, dine-in restaurants and nightclubs in an effort to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus. LA County has 69 cases of the disease, including one death, as of Sunday.

This post was updated March 16 at 10:59 p.m.

Bars, restaurants and nightclubs across the city must close at midnight Sunday following an executive order from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. 

They must remain closed until March 31 unless the executive order is rescinded or extended. The move is an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19, Garcetti said.

LA County had 69 cases of COVID-19 as of Sunday, including one death.

The executive order, signed Sunday night, likewise closes entertainment facilities, such as movie theaters, playhouses and gyms. Garcetti strongly urged all places of worship to limit their services at a press conference Sunday night. 

Businesses with delivery or pickup services, such as restaurants with drive-throughs or takeout options, may continue to operate those services, he said.

Grocery stores, pharmacies and food banks will stay open, Garcetti said. 

While some restaurants in Westwood are switching to delivery and takeout, at least one is closing down entirely.

Rocco’s Tavern is closing its locations at UCLA and USC for the time being. 

“Our business is down to literally nothing,” said Alexander Manos, one of the owners of Rocco’s. “We’re not waiting for the kids to come back (to) Westwood. We’re just waiting for the city to say, ‘Hey, you can just reopen as a restaurant again.’”

Manos said his restaurant group is seeking small business aid from the city in the meantime to keep the taverns afloat through the closures. Its remaining stores will be transitioning to takeout and delivery only, moving back into pizza.

“We started out as a pizza shop,” Manos said. “We’re putting together a grassroots campaign to get back into pizza delivery, pizza pickup, wings and all. All the favorites of Rocco’s so we can stay in business.”

Ezequiel Medina, a night manager at Enzo’s Pizzeria in Westwood, was working at the restaurant when he learned of the executive order. 

Before the mayor’s announcement, Medina said his restaurant has also been receiving fewer customers after UCLA classes moved online as a response to the pandemic. 

“A lot of the students are leaving (for home),” Medina said. 

After the executive order was announced, Medina said the restaurant will stop dine-in orders but will continue with takeout and deliveries.

“We’ll just leave (the dine-in area) open but will just let the public know that it will be either pickups or deliveries on our website,” Medina said.

David Houston, the owner of Barney’s Beanery in Westwood, said the pub will comply with the order and temporarily close.

“The most important thing, of course, is safety for our staff and our customers,” Houston said. “We’re not happy, but we’re going to comply and we hope this thing can get over quickly and we all get back to our normal lives.”

The gastropub had posted a sign on its doors before the executive order denoting that parts of the dine-in area were closed, cutting seating in half, and notifying customers that the store takes to-go and delivery orders.

Broxton Brewery in Westwood declined to comment.

Garcetti also discussed other measures the city is taking to lessen the impact of the virus and prevent its spread. 

LA is opening 60 centers Wednesday that will offer food to students and parents, Garcetti said.

The city has already ordered that water and power not be shut off if people can’t pay their bills, Garcetti said. The city likewise ordered a moratorium on renters being evicted.

Garcetti also asked Los Angeles residents not to hoard food.  

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, large gatherings are the most common reason for the spread of the novel coronavirus. The CDC recommended Saturday morning that citizens postpone or cancel gatherings of 50 or more people for the next eight weeks. 

Slowing the rate of COVID-19 infections will ensure that the health care industry is not too overwhelmed to care for people who have other ailments, Garcetti said. 

The most important thing LA residents can do is continue social distancing to protect older and immunocompromised citizens, Garcetti said. 

“Myself and all of us know of individuals who are saying, ‘This doesn’t apply to me. I’m going to get through this,’” he said. “‘I’m strong, I’m healthy, maybe I’m young, it’s not going to statistically take me.’ But know that our actions aren’t about ourselves.” 

Will Hollister, a first-year civil engineering student, lives in Hermosa Beach, in LA County. He said the executive order will affect him, but he’ll figure it out. 

“I thought it was a good precaution,” he said. “Like you’ve kind of seen what’s been going on with Italy. They’re kind of screwing that up. Obviously it seems like a lot, but it should save a lot of people.” 

Rocco’s has been in business for 20 years, Manos said. 

“We’ve never come across anything like this in our lives,” he said.

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Assistant News editor

Nucci is the 2019-2020 Assistant News editor for the Features & Student Life beat. She was previously a contributor for the Campus Politics beat from 2018-2019 and Copy staff from 2017-2019.

Senior staff photojournalist & news reporter

Jintak Han is a senior staff photojournalist and news reporter. He photographs anything that catches his eye and writes for the City & Crime beat. He previously served as the 2016-2017 Assistant Photo editor.

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