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L.A.’s Second Lockdown Hints at What’s in Store for Rest of U.S.

  • California’s stay-at-home order lasts until at least Dec. 28
  • Businesses want to know why their industry is a closure target
Paul Tyler answers the phone for breakfast take-out orders at John O'Groats restaurant in West Los Angeles, on Dec. 9. 

Paul Tyler answers the phone for breakfast take-out orders at John O'Groats restaurant in West Los Angeles, on Dec. 9. 

Photographer: Elisa Ferrari/Bloomberg

The latest Los Angeles lockdown is another hammer blow for businesses still struggling through the pandemic -– and it could be a taste of what lies ahead all over the country.

Residents of the second-biggest U.S. city have been under state orders to stay home since late Sunday, because intensive-care units were dangerously close to full capacity amid a surge in virus cases. Officials elsewhere in the U.S. are in a similar spot, forced to consider tapping the brakes on local economies again just when they were coming back. Indoor dining in New York City may be forced to close Monday if hospitalization rates don’t stabilize.

For small firms in particular, the fight for survival could be even tougher this time. Further federal aid has been held up by lawmakers. And L.A. business owners lament that they’ve invested in patios, plexiglass dividers or sanitation stations to keep operating under one coronavirus regime, only to be told it’s not safe enough to stop the spread of the virus and they have to close again.

Paul Tyler, who owns the John O’Groats restaurant in West Los Angeles, has no problem with the idea that saving lives must come above profits. But he says policy makers have to be more transparent about how they’re going about it.