By Elina Shatkin and Chris Greenspon/LAist

Originally published Apr 30, 2021

[EDITORS’ NOTE: This story was edited by Boyle Heights Beat to reflect that Los Angeles county has officially entered the yellow tier of the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy.}

On Tuesday, Los Angeles County became eligible to move into California’s less restrictive yellow tier, which relaxes more rules for businesses during pandemic. For dining and drinking establishments, the TLDR is that they can increase the number of customers they can serve.

Bars that don’t serve food should get the biggest boost. They’ll finally be able to reopen for indoor service, something they can’t do in the orange tier.

Boyle Heights queer bar Noa Noa Place recently started hosting Sunday drag brunches (reservation only) with queen Melissa Befierce. When the bar opened in December 2020, patrons could only take pictures of Befierce while they waited for their orders of chorizo pizza and carne asada “Tater THOTs.”

The drag brunches have the usual pandemic precautions: tables at least 6 feet apart, temperature checks, hand sanitizer. There’s also no touching. Instead of picking up bills from guests, drag queens are coming out with fishing nets to gather their tips.

“We want to make sure that our staff is safe, that they feel comfortable,” says Luis Octavio, one of the bar’s three co-owners. “We want to make sure the people coming to Noa Noa Place also feel like, ‘Hey, these guys are following guidelines.'”

In the former orange tier, Noa Noa was serving patrons on its patio as well as inside at 50% capacity. It could accommodate 40 to 50 people at a time. The yellow tier will allow the venue to bump up its capacity to approximately 75 customers.

Restaurants & Bars That Serve Meals

For indoor dining, restaurants can increase their capacity to 75% — if all guests can prove they’re vaccinated or they have a recent negative COVID-19 test. Failing that, restaurants can still offer indoor service at 50% capacity. In addition, restaurants are no longer capped at 200 people indoors, as they were in the orange tier.

Bars That Don’t Serve Meals

Bars that don’t serve meals are treated differently than restaurants. In the yellow tier, they can offer indoor service at a maximum capacity of 37.5% — if all guests can prove they’re vaccinated or they have a recent negative COVID-19 test. Failing that, bars can still offer indoor service at 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer. In the orange tier, bars that didn’t serve meals could provide outdoor service.

Wineries, Breweries & Distilleries That Don’t Serve Meals

Wineries, breweries and distilleries that don’t serve meals can offer indoor service at a maximum capacity of 75% — if all guests can prove they’re vaccinated or they have a recent negative COVID-19 test. Failing that, restaurants can still offer indoor service at 50% capacity or 200 people, whichever is fewer. In the orange tier, the limit was 25% or 100 people, whichever was fewer.

Noa Noa Place in BH. Photo by Chava Sanchez/LAist

What Does That Mean For You?

Get ready to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. Either bring your vaccination card with you or snap a picture of it on your phone and be prepared to flash it at local restaurants and bars.

Octavio hopes that when the tier system is lifted in the middle of June, aka Pride Month, Noa Noa will be able to open five days a week — and host Spanish-language drag shows every night.

“It’s a very meaningful month,” Octavio says. “Now, it has even more meaning because it might be the beginning of when our initial idea can start.”

This report is reprinted with permission from Southern California Public Radio. © 2021 Southern California Public Radio. All rights reserved.





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