LOS ANGELES — (03-15-20) — California Governor Gavin Newsom and L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, announced closures of bars, nightclubs and restaurants due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

“Los Angeles bars and nightclubs will close and restaurants must halt dine-in service, limiting their business to takeout, as part of the city’s efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus,” announced Mayor Garcetti on Sunday night.

Watch L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti Press Conference

“Everything we do right now will determine the outcome of this crisis, and we can save lives if we stay calm, care for one another, and take forceful steps to protect our communities,” said Mayor Garcetti. “That’s why we must follow the guidelines laid out by Gov. Newsom, build on them for local needs, and put the health and safety of the most vulnerable above all else.”

Review California Gov. Gavin Newsom new guidelines for the state:

* Advising all people 65 or older to self-isolate at home
* Directing all bars, brew pubs, night clubs, and wineries to shut down
* Restaurants should be at no more than 50% occupancy and ensure social    distancing among their patrons

Why keep restaurants open when bars are being told to close? Newsom said they didn’t think that closing all restaurants was necessary at this point, and he added that there is a real concern over food access, particularly when implementing social isolation and distancing practices. Not everyone has a kitchen or can prepare their own food, and some people with mobility issues may find it even harder to get to the grocery store. By definition, restaurants provide expanded points of access to food, Newsom said.

“We recognize that social isolation for millions of Californians is anxiety-inducing,” Newsom said, “but we recognize what all of the science bears out, and what we recognize around the rest of the world: that we need to meet this moment head on and lean in.”

California so far has seen a total of 335 positive tests for coronavirus, and six people have now died because of COVID-19.

The Governor said the guidelines he laid out were intended to protect Californians most vulnerable populations, including those 65 years and older, as well as those with chronic or underlying medical conditions, and the homeless.

The Los Angeles Times captured reaction from popular LGBTQ business in WeHo following the Governor Newsom and Mayor Garcetti’s press conference:

“At Rocco’s WeHo and Flaming Saddles, drag queens danced to deafening music as they were cheered on by crowds handing them dollar bills on the stage. At least in these places, life seemed to go on as normal.

Not everyone was proceeding with business as usual. At the Abbey, West Hollywood’s most popular gay bar, the gates were closed. On each door, a sign read: “As we continue to navigate the rapidly changing conditions with COVID 19, the Abbey is closing temporarily. We plan to open as soon as our public health officials tell us it is safe.”

Some proprietors and performers said they were concerned for their livelihoods.

“If they can’t [work], how are they going to survive?” said Adolfo Espinoza, an owner of Rocco’s WeHo.

He said that bar management is taking precautions, such as deep cleanings every night, limiting the bar to a 300-person capacity, versus 600 to 900 on its most crowded nights, and using throwaway cups only.

Before hearing about Newsom’s directive, Espinoza said he had no plans to close, despite bad reviews and social media posts from people who shamed Rocco’s for not shutting down for people’s safety.

“We live in a sick world,” he said. “Sex and alcohol is always going to sell.”

Article by: Paul Goldberg, Staff Writer

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