Garcetti urges L.A. residents to stay home on New Year’s Eve, LAPD vows to crack down on gatherings
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is pleading with revelers to stay home on New Year’s Eve and said he plans to crack down on “super-spreader” events in the city.
In a somber briefing Wednesday — his 83rd and final COVID-19 briefing of the year — a beleaguered Garcetti described 2020 as “the toughest year of our city’s history” and said, despite the holiday, “it’s almost too painful to look backward.”
“Nobody should be gathering in a big party, and nobody should be gathering in a small party, as well,” he said, noting that the latest coronavirus surge has been tied to Thanksgiving gatherings. “These are the ways this virus will spread to your loved ones, to those closest to you.”
The announcement came as Los Angeles County marked its 10,000th death from COVID-19 and broke a single-day record for deaths for the second day in a row, notching 262 fatalities on Wednesday after recording 242 on Tuesday.
Officials are not sure how bad the post-Christmas coronavirus surge will be, but many experts say January is looking to be a ‘grim month.’
The current surge has crippled the region’s healthcare system, and, with virus transmissions linked to Christmas gatherings yet to manifest, public health officials say the worst is yet to come.
“We won’t know it for a while, but we will feel it in our homes, in our ICU units and in our morgues,” Garcetti said. “Please do not let us have a third surge that we simply cannot take here in Los Angeles as a result of our New Year.”
The mayor said the Los Angeles Police Department will deploy significant patrolling Thursday to enforce the public health rules that prohibit large gatherings or “super-spreader” events.
“We will be out there in force on New Year’s Eve,” he said.
Earlier this week, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power disconnected utilities for a “chronic party house” in the Hollywood Hills, Garcetti said, and City Atty. Mike Feuer has asked the event website Eventbrite to take down invitations to parties on New Year’s Eve.
Still, events are popping up on other websites, including a “Winter Paradise” rave planned for downtown Los Angeles. Tickets for the event are $80 apiece through a site called Ticketleap.
The soiree, which is being heavily promoted by the Why Not Party group on Instagram, is touted as a “fully immersive escapade” that will run from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.
“Please disregard the generic email Eventbrite sent,” the group wrote Thursday on Instagram. “The event is NOT CANCELLED.”
Event organizers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Earlier this week, Beverly Hills restaurant La Scala came under fire for promoting a “speakeasy”-style indoor dining event on New Year’s Eve — a move it later walked back.
Another restaurant, Westlake’s 101 North Eatery & Bar, is advertising a $195 New Year’s Eve tapas package for two, which it says customers can pick up and eat on their outdoor patio.
The restaurant’s publicist, Rachel Lucosky, said the event was not a violation of the county’s outdoor dining ban because no service will be provided. She noted that diners are simply invited to pick up their meal and picnic on outdoor tables adjacent to the restaurant.
“The owners would love it if everybody stayed home and picked up their food, but everybody needs a place of refuge to get some fresh air, so it’s more so promoting that,” she said.
On Wednesday night, police were on hand to “keep the peace” at a Christian singer’s gathering on skid row that was deemed a potential super-spreader event. Officer Drake Madison of the LAPD said Thursday that no arrests were made at the event.
Madison said New Year’s Eve should keep the department busy.
“It’s one of those nights we just need to make it through,” he said.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has also targeted “the underground party scene,” announcing Wednesday that it had made 235 arrests at super-spreader events throughout December.
“I have made it clear that we will seek out and take law enforcement action against all super-spreader events occurring anywhere within Los Angeles County,” Sheriff Alex Villanueva said in a statement. “The goal of these enforcement actions is to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and the risk to our vulnerable populations.”
In Los Angeles County, 1 in 5 are now testing positive for COVID-19, Garcetti said Wednesday — the same day that 7,546 people were hospitalized, the highest number since the start of the pandemic.
“My message couldn’t be clearer,” the mayor said. “Do not get together with others on New Year’s Eve. Do not host or attend a party in person. Do not travel. Celebrate virtually, stay home and welcome the New Year with people in your household and no one else.”
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