L.A. County restaurants, gyms preparing to reopen indoors at limited capacity

Starting on Monday, Los Angeles County restaurants, gyms, museums and zoos can reopen for indoor operations at limited capacity after months of closures and restrictions.

The businesses have to restrict capacity indoors as the coronavirus remains widespread.

Following the announcement that the state has met its COVID-19 vaccine goal, triggering more reopenings, business owners were hard at work preparing to welcome more guests.

Local eatery, Bella Serra Trattoria in Monrovia, was forced to lay off 90% of its staff amid the closures that dried up business.

“It was a very difficult time for all of us, and so many businesses didn’t make it through both closures,” said Alfonso Gioia of Bella Serra Trattoria. “We’re lucky enough to be here.”

Gioia said being able to reopen indoors again, even if its just at 25% capacity, means that the restaurant can bring more staff back on.

L.A. County suspended in-person dining in November due to an unprecedented surge in coronavirus cases. Before that, residents were only allowed to eat outdoors at restaurants — many of which had expanded onto sidewalks and bought canopies to comply with the rules. Eateries were able to again welcome customers back for outdoor dining in late January.

Brian Whelan has run Foothill Gym for 37 years, and in the last year, he’s had to make major changes to stay in business, including renting a tent for outdoor exercise that costs thousands of dollars.

“A lot of people have suffered loss of jobs so we’re glad to be providing employment and keep everybody’s level of sanity, health and fitness during the pandemic,” Whelan said.

Now, with gyms in L.A. allowed to open indoors at 10% capacity with masks required, the gym owner is optimistic.

“Glad we’re moving in slowly, so it gives us time to test the waters, make sure everything’s okay,” he said.

In Sierra Madre, the owner of Sierra Fitness, Sandy Duvall, said she doesn’t think the fitness center will be able to completely resume indoor operations for some time.

“It’s gonna be a long time before we’re going to be able to open up 100%,” Duvall said. “We need the outdoor gym for the next year or two years,” she said.

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