Pasadena limits outdoor diners: Only household members may sit together

Pasadena limits outdoor diners: Only household members may sit together

As of midnight on Wednesday, Dec. 2, Pasadena restaurateurs and diners have a new restriction to contend with, as the city will soon require outdoor diners to sit only with members of their own household.

The rule will be in place until Dec. 20, according to a city news release.

The move was met with some confusion from Pasadena restaurant owners who weren’t sure how this would really be enforceable.

“It’s moot, really,” said Frank Gale, owner of Russell’s, a restaurant in Pasadena. “How do you know? Are you supposed to ask? And if you ask, do you just have to take people’s word for it? I get it, I get it, you shouldn’t mix households, but are we going to create restrictions that we can’t enforce?”

It’s somewhat of an honor system policy, according to Pasadena spokeswoman Lisa Derderian.

The city doesn’t have the ability to fact check every diner’s claims, and it’s not fair to ask restaurants to go beyond asking the question and posting the order, she said via text message on Wednesday.

The city’s hope is that diners will police themselves and restaurants will do what they can to help ensure that folks follow the rules.

“I’ll ask them,” Gale said, “but I know what they’re going to say: ‘We’re all from the same household.’ And I have to take that at face value.”

The new restriction comes as Pasadena continues to be the only city in Los Angeles County that’s open for outdoor dining. Both the county and Long Beach, which operates its own health department alongside Pasadena, forced restaurants to serve only takeout and delivery.

In Pasadena, dining is limited to six people per table — though ideally the groups are even smaller, Derderian said — and there’s strict operating guidelines for restaurant owners.

In keeping restaurants open, Pasadena officials began increasing enforcement of coronavirus-related restrictions, shutting down a half-dozen restaurants that weren’t in compliance before bringing them up to speed some days later. 

Officials have broken up soccer and volleyball games, and city staff members are telling defiant members of the public to wear their masks anytime they’re around folks from outside their immediate household.

Right now, Pasadena is seeing 10 times more coronavirus cases than it was six weeks ago.

Both the city and Los Angeles County as a whole are experiencing their worst coronavirus surges since the pandemic began, record-breaking day after record-breaking day.

For outdoor dining to continue, the city urged residents to obey the rules.

“Pasadena is not the place to come for social gatherings, whether at a home of a friend or relative, a fraternity picnic, or a group meal at an outdoor dining establishment,” the city’s news release reads. “No gatherings are allowed.”

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