California pub tries to keep calm, carry on with virus rules

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) - By most standards keeping a pub afloat, the coronavirus pandemic should have the Ye Olde King's Head drained.
The British restaurant and bar in Southern California have been hit for the past nine months. It was adjusting to the new restrictions that came into effect on Friday and would further limit the recovery, even if the prospect of a home order loomed that could bring business to a standstill.
"It's not worth thinking about," said operations manager Lisa Powers, who has led the 46-year-old facility through an ever-changing series of public health ordinances. "Nobody will survive without the help of the federal government if there is another lockdown." . ”
The number of cases in Los Angeles County is skyrocketing at a rate even local health officials didn't seem to think about on Tuesday when they gave companies three days to put new restrictions in place that will force restaurants to reduce the capacity of many Halve outdoor areas that many had established to stay afloat because indoor service was banned. Restaurants and non-essential retail stores must close at 10 p.m.
LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said on Wednesday that the county of 10 million could hit a daily average of 4,000 times by early December where restaurants would only have to offer take-away meals. She said she didn't think the outcome was inevitable.
The next day, when the daily cases exceeded 5,000, the county health officer, Dr. Muntu Davis said the county could hit a daily average of 4,500 cases by Sunday that would trigger a shutdown.
The recent surge comes from US public health officials sounding the alarm that the virus is out of control, tightening restrictions and preventing people from holding large Thanksgiving gatherings.
Governor Gavin Newsom put the most stringent restrictions on most California businesses on Monday, adding a 10:00 p.m. Thursday. Curfew for residents until 5 p.m., which will take effect on Saturday.
In Los Angeles County, which makes up a quarter of the state's 40 million population but has about a third of coronavirus cases and nearly 40% of deaths, restrictions continued.
Ye Olde King's Head, a replica Tudor facility near the beach in Santa Monica, survived an extended shutdown in the spring, a destructive search during the May police protests, and public health orders that were in need of constant adjustment.
"It's like a different rule to follow every week," Powers said as she prepped the facility for the latest rules, including changing the closing time from 2pm to 10pm. "We're trying to keep up, but things are moving so quickly."
The California Restaurant Association has announced that thousands of restaurants across the country have closed and fears that more than a third of restaurants will open in March before the first shutdown will eventually shut down.
The King's Head had to offer its traditional British take-away food - from banger and mash and fish and chips to traditional Sunday roast. The adjoining gift “shoppe” with imported tea, cookies, Marmite spreads and British newspapers has also reopened.
It continued to be built after vandals and looters ravaged the site during protests in Minneapolis following the death of George Floyd. The ATM was pulled out onto the street, opened and the money was put in his pocket. Alcohol was stolen, televisions smashed, and graffiti was sprayed on the blinds.
"They didn't even know what they were looting," Powers said. "It was English tea and English chocolates."
When only al fresco dining was allowed, the King's Head was fortunate to be a business that already had patio seating, offering pints of pub grub along with formal afternoon tea on fine china and white linen with freshly baked scones, sausage rolls and mini sandwiches to serve.
The reopening was welcome for the largely British ex-pat community as well as for loyal locals and tourists from all over the world.
"It's as close to home as possible," said Philip Mathur, who has been visiting the pub since moving to LA from a small town outside of Glasgow more than 20 years ago. "It brings a little bit of sanity to another, otherwise weird world that we're in right now."
Mathur, who had a Heineken and was planning to order steak pie and chips as soon as his three British friends arrived, said it would be "a sad loss" if the pub had to close again.
It should have been a big year for any bar in Los Angeles. The Dodgers won their first World Series in more than three decades and the Lakers won their first NBA championship in 10 years. The pub also draws crowds for English football and rugby matches which they had to show to a limited crowd on the terrace.
The pub itself is mostly quiet. Nobody throws arrows, stands at the dark wooden bar that has 20 beers on tap, eats in the formal dining room, or sits by the fireplace with a painting by Winston Churchill above it.
Powers is working on plans to add awnings and heaters to prepare for outdoor seating in the cooler, wetter months in an otherwise temperate climate.
She declined to discuss how much sales have declined. The company survived the shutdown with the help of a Paycheck Protection Program loan of between $ 350,000 and $ 1 million, according to the Small Business Administration.
Powers, of Birmingham, England, did not want to think about another possible shutdown. She admitted the latest virus counts didn't look good, but kept a stiff upper lip.
"It definitely tests us," she said. "I think we have the good old British stuff."

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