Restaurants can only operate at 25 percent of their maximum capacity, and all tables must be separated by at least eight feet.

By Mike Pomranz
March 15, 2021
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Restaurants in Los Angeles can officially open for limited indoor dining today. The County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health updated its protocols for restaurants effective 12:01 a.m. Monday morning, a choice made after the county moved from California's most restrictive "purple tier" of COVID-19 restrictions down to the lower "red tier" of the state's four tier system.

Restaurants will now have the option to seat diners inside for the first time since July, though plenty of restrictions will still apply. Restaurants can only operate at 25 percent of their maximum capacity, or at 100 people, whichever number is lower. All tables must be separated by least eight feet, and ventilation should be increased "to the maximum extent possible."

Chrome and green leather details in a drive-in retro eatery
Credit: Oleksandra Korobova / Getty Images

Only one household is allowed per table—something restaurants are required to remind guests of before seating them—and even then, no more than six people can be seated together. However, if you have a group of up to six from two or three households, all is not entirely lost: Los Angeles County now allows those groups to be seated together outdoors, which is also a loosening of the restrictions that takes effect today.

With the transition, the county issued additional guidance on worker protection, as well. "It is strongly recommended that restaurant operators that open for indoor dining provide employees, those who are or may be in contact with customers indoors, masks that are more effective at protecting against small aerosol transmission, including but not limited to fit-tested N95 masks, KN95 masks and double-masks, given the higher risk of COVID-19 spread indoors in a restaurant setting," the update emphasizes up top. "Face shields are still required."

Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda Solis had a word of warning for the general public, too. "We have achieved this milestone and moved down to the 'red' tier because as a county we worked hard, looked out for one another and came together to defeat the dark winter surge," she said, according to NBC Los Angeles. "Although we are taking steps to re-open some of the hardest hit sectors of our economy, that in no way means we can drop our guard now."