Manhattan Beach repurposes closed outdoor dining areas for public seating

A man carries a surfboard at sunset on the beach
A man carries a surfboard at sunset at El Porto in Manhattan Beach.
(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times)

Though Los Angeles County has ordered restaurants to suspend outdoor dining through the holidays, the city of Manhattan Beach has implemented a plan to allow residents to continue using the space. The city has repurposed newly closed outdoor dining areas as public seating areas where people can sit and potentially dine out.

The action by Manhattan Beach was taken following the county’s newly issued safer-at-home order, which lasts through late December and prohibits outdoor dining at restaurants, breweries and wineries. The order was implemented following a surge in coronavirus cases that has strained intensive care unit capacity.

“The public can now use spaces previously allocated for outdoor dining and retail areas during the pandemic,” Manhattan Beach City Manager Bruce Monroe said in a statement last week, encouraging patrons to enjoy the holiday shopping experience in the South Bay community.


Los Angeles County has made visits to businesses and contacted the city about the decision, senior city analyst George Gabriel said. The county’s department of public health was not immediately available for comment on whether this rule interferes with the county’s order.

The allowance includes a series of rules, including the requirement to wear face coverings, maintain social distancing and refrain from gatherings outside the household as well as the prohibition of alcohol use. The areas will remain closed from 10 p.m. until 7:30 a.m., following county rules.

Restaurants will not be allowed to serve food directly to patrons, and must continue to abide by the county’s orders to limit service to takeout and delivery only.

The City Council directed its COVID-19 Long Term Business Solutions ad hoc subcommittee to assess the possibility last week, and the subcommittee directed city staff to undertake the action on Dec. 2.

“Our business community is struggling to survive the County’s latest restrictions and the City has a win-win solution to help, while safeguarding public health,” Mayor Suzanne Hadley said in a statement.

According to L.A. County’s Department of Public Health, Manhattan Beach has recorded more than 580 cases and at least four deaths related to COVID-19 — a fraction of the more than 460,000 reported infections and over 8,000 deaths in the county.