Most Covid-19 infected county in US to shut down restaurants, again

A customer waits for his order from a restaurant in California, US, on Nov 17, 2020.
A customer waits for his order from a restaurant in California, US, on Nov 17, 2020.PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (BLOOMBERG) - America's most infected metropolitan area will be shutting down outdoor dining again.

The Greater Los Angeles area added 2,718 new coronavirus cases on Sunday (Nov 22), with the five-day average exceeding the 4,000 threshold that triggered additional measures where restaurants, breweries and bars will once again limit their businesses to just pick-up and delivery.

The new curbs will start at 10pm on Wednesday, right before the Thanksgiving holiday.

"If our cases and hospitalisations continue to increase, we will need to issue further restrictions to protect our health-care system and prevent more deaths," Ms Barbara Ferrer, director of public health for Los Angeles County, said in a statement on Sunday.

Sunday's case count brought the total for the Greater Los Angeles area to 364,520, the highest among counties in the United States - and exceeding even those in countries including Canada, Saudi Arabia and Austria.

The Los Angeles area, with a population of about 10 million, had already imposed additional measures starting last Friday night, including limiting capacity for retail stores, offices and restaurants. Non-essential shops and restaurants must also close from 10pm to 6am, except for takeout, delivery and pick-up.

Still, the county - the most populous in the US - was spared from a lockdown. A five-day average of 4,500 cases could trigger a three-week "Safer at Home" order. The hospitalisation of more than 2,000 people a day would also lead to similar curbs.

Ahead of the Thanksgiving break, officials across the US have urged residents to avoid travel and scale back gatherings - or cancel them altogether. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti reminded residents to avoid gatherings for the holiday.

"Your bubble is bigger than you think," he said.

California, which had a record number of cases earlier in the weekend, started its 10pm-5am curfew on Saturday night across most of the state, affecting areas that encompass 37 million people, or 94 per cent of the population.

Separately, Governor Gavin Newsom said three of his children were exposed to a highway patrol officer who tested positive for Covid-19. The entire family tested negative on Sunday and will be quarantined for 14 days.