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Manhattan Beach To Close Outdoor Public Seating

Jan 02, 2021 07:20PM ● By Jeanne Fratello

The outdoor dining deck at Slay Italian Kitchen

Responding to a surge in new COVID-19 cases, the city of Manhattan Beach is moving to close outdoor seating spaces on public property.

The closure will take effect on Sunday, January 3 at 10:00 p.m. Tables and chairs located in the outdoor seating spaces will be removed at that time.

At the beginning of the current surge on November 1, Manhattan Beach had 425 confirmed cases of COVID-19. As of January 2, that number had almost doubled to 821 cases.

On December 31, the daily number of new cases reached 21, and yesterday 26, marking a new all-time record high since the beginning of the pandemic. Remaining ICU capacity in Southern California is currently at zero percent.

“We must continue to respond to the ever-changing dynamics of this pandemic. We are asking residents to stay home if possible, and mainly go out for work and essentials, or to exercise outdoors,” said Manhattan Beach Mayor Suzanne Hadley in a statement. “This recent spike in the virus is significant, despite the good news last month of our Manhattan Beach firefighters receiving some of the first COVID-19 vaccinations. Although public seating areas will be closed temporarily, please continue supporting our local businesses that offer pick-up, curbside, take-out, and delivery services.”

With a new mutant strain of COVID now present in California, which is reportedly more easily spread than the original virus, the city is urging residents to strive to reduce virus transmission by wearing face coverings, maintaining a safe distance, staying home as much as possible, and supporting local businesses that are offering pick-up, curbside, take-out, and delivery services.

Outdoor Seating Areas Had Come Under Fire

In early December when the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health moved to suspend in-person outdoor dining, the city of Manhattan Beach opted to repurpose outdoor dining areas as public seating areas.

The goal was to encourage customers to support the local business community while providing a socially distant and safe place to relax and enjoy the holiday shopping experience.

However, that policy came under fire from the county shortly thereafter. Los Angeles County Health Officer Muntu Davis wrote in a letter to the city of Manhattan Beach that the public use of the dining decks violated "both the letter and the spirit" of the county's public health order.

“By placing tables and chairs adjacent to restaurants, the city of Manhattan Beach is both violating and defeating the purpose of the county’s order and decidedly not safeguarding public health,” Davis wrote.

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