Masks are back at LA bars and restaurants, but is that enough?

Caroline Champlin Jul 23, 2021
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Pedestrians wearing face masks walk past a "Prevent the spread of COVID-19" banner in Los Angeles on Jan. 19. Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Masks are back at LA bars and restaurants, but is that enough?

Caroline Champlin Jul 23, 2021
Heard on:
Pedestrians wearing face masks walk past a "Prevent the spread of COVID-19" banner in Los Angeles on Jan. 19. Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images
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LA re-imposed a mask mandate about a week ago. Bar and restaurant patrons can still eat indoors. Now, business owners are trying to navigate what the mandate means as they try to serve customers and keep them and their workers safe. As the weekend approaches, how is the mask mandate playing out at eateries in a city that is now trying to get a grip on COVID cases that have started to surge again?

At Bar Franca in downtown L.A., the cocktail bar is gearing up for the weekend with a team meeting. Owner Rachel Thomas is making the biggest change to the bouncer’s job.

“He’s already checking your ID, now he’s going to check to see if you’re vaccinated,” she said.

The bar will also accept proof of a recent negative COVID test. Thomas said she’s going beyond what’s required by the mask mandate.

“I was just like, ‘how do you mandate masks in the cocktail bar?’ You can’t drink and have a mask on at the same time,” she said.

Thomas figured restricting access was the best way to make customers comfortable as cases go up among unvaccinated people.

But at a nearby tasting room, Pali Wine, they aren’t going that far. Assistant general manager Karina Carrillo said patrons do need to show up wearing a mask.

“Then we seat them … and once they have their food items, their wine, they can take off their mask and enjoy,” she said.

L.A. county health officials said about 30% of residents are not vaccinated.

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