On-Site Dining Banned in LA County Amid Virus ‘Surge,’ Malibu Cases Slowly Rising

The number of new coronavirus cases reported by LA County among Malibu residents each week has fluctuated broadly—and stayed low—but last week’s number of new cases (11) and this week’s (12) were both record-setting increases.

The novel coronavirus pandemic is surging in Los Angeles County.

On Tuesday, Nov. 24, 1,575 people were hospitalized with the virus in LA County, up from 888 just two weeks earlier. On Tuesday, 51 people died from COVID-19 in the county, the deadliest day since early September. And while Malibu’s case rate and numbers have remained very low—far below the average in the county—numbers have begun to rise here as well, with 12 new cases this week (Nov. 17-23), the sharpest increase in cases in any week since the pandemic began. In comparison, throughout the six weeks from Sept. 7 to Oct. 19, only six cases were reported in total among Malibu residents, an average of one new reported per week.

The increase in cases coincides with the implementation of Malibu’s new mask mandate, which establishes a $50 fine for those who are not masked and who refuse to “mask-up” when asked. Winning final approval in October and ratified on Nov. 5, the new ordinance was set to go into effect 30 days after final approval; however, a statewide mask mandate has already been on the books for months. Malibu’s mandate also provides details as to what counts as a mask, and no, hand-tied bandanas, scarves, t-shirts, face shields and masks with exhaust vents don’t make the cut.

As case numbers continue to rise, both the State of California and County of Los Angeles have put new measures in place to keep people home.

Beginning on Wednesday, Oct. 25, at 10 p.m., all restaurants, wineries and breweries in the county must cease in-person dining—including outdoor dining—for a minimum of three weeks, according to the newest health order. 

The increase coincides with Thanksgiving—traditionally, the largest travel holiday of the year. This year, health officials nationwide have urged Americans to stay home, but initial reports out Tuesday described “record-breaking” numbers at airports across the country, the highest rate of travel since coronavirus shut-downs began in March.

While just last weekend, the county was suggesting no more than three households meet up outdoors to celebrate Thanksgiving, newest guidance from the county urges Angelenos to keep celebrations, whether indoor or out, to just your own household.

“People mixing with others not in their household has driven the COVID-19 pandemic in L.A. County to dangerous levels,” LA County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer said in a press release on Tuesday. “Because L.A. County reached a five-day average case rate over 4,500 new cases, Public Health is working with the Board of Supervisors on additional safety measures to reduce transmission of the virus. Public Health is recommending that gatherings only occur with members of your own household and occupancy at all sites be reduced to avoid crowding.”

Meanwhile, across the state, the governor announced a stay-at-home order to go into effect between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., limiting nonessential trips during nighttime, but allowing for exercise, trips to the grocery store and other errands. Those orders drew intense criticism in some conservative enclaves such as Huntington Beach, but there was no backlash in Malibu against the order.

All LA County-operated testing sites were to close on Thursday, Nov. 26, for the Thanksgiving holiday. Those in need of immediate testing were asked to contact a healthcare provider or call 2-1-1 for assistance.