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New LA County ‘safer-at-home’ order puts additional limits on gatherings, closes playgrounds

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles County has issued a new safer-at-home order that places stricter limits on gatherings and occupancy at businesses, as well as closes playgrounds and cardrooms.

The new order, which takes effect Monday and will last at least until Dec. 20, comes as the county sees a disturbing surge in COVID-19 cases.

RELATED: LA County could see a doubling of cases within two weeks

The county has been averaging more than 4,700 new cases per day, the highest rate since the start of the pandemic. Health officials remain particularly concerned about gatherings that may have happened during Thanksgiving, as well as the upcoming December holidays, that may further increase transmission rates.

Under the new order:

  • All public and private gatherings with someone outside your own household are now prohibited. Exceptions are made for church services and protests protected by the Constitution.
  • Occupancy limits at businesses now stand at 35% for essential retail; 20% for non-essential retail like outdoor malls, as well as for personal care services and libraries; 50% for fitness centers operating outdoors, as well as museums, galleries, zoos and aquariums and other recreational businesses like batting cages.
  • Playgrounds, except those at childcare and schools, are closed. They had initially been allowed to reopen in October.
  • Cardrooms are closed. In early October they had been allowed to reopen with outdoor operations.
  • More details of the public health order are available here.

    A union representing hotel and food workers say they support the new plan because it protects those who are working on the front lines and interacting with the public on a regular basis.

    “Our decision to support this measure is guided by science and prioritizes the health of all workers – servers and cooks as well as nurses and doctors,” said Kurt Peterson with Unite Here Local 11.

    Doctors also spoke out in support, reminding the public that more than half the coronavirus cases are spread by people who weren’t displaying any symptoms.

    “Having a negative test in one day in no way guarantees you’re going to be negative the next day or the day after that,” said Dr. Greg Moran, with Olive View UCLA Medical Center. “So the main message is continue to be vigilant.”

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