In a 3-2 vote, the L.A. County Supervisors rejected a motion to block the County Health Officer Order that would restrict outdoor dining for three weeks.
Supervisors Kathryn Barger and Janice Hahn brought forth the motion, saying there was no data to support that outdoor dining was a cause for the recent “surge” in COVID-19 infections.
Barger called the order “unnecessary” and devastating to local communities.
“Data shows the surge in cases isn’t coming from dining out, but from large social gatherings,” Barger said Monday. “Businesses have already made incredible sacrifices to align with safety protocols to remain open in order to pay their bills and feed their families.”
In an addtional response to the order, which will begin Wednesday at 10 p.m., the Board of Supervisors approved an amendment to the CARES Act supplemental spending plan, which would set funding for restaurants, breweries and wineries affected by the county’s order.
While Barger suggested that $10 million of the CARES Act be allocated to these efforts, there was no specific dollar number in the press release provided by Supervisor Hilda Solis, Tuesday.
Supervisor Hahn also suggested the Small Business Revitalization Grant be extended to restaurants, as it currently only applies to breweries and wineries with no kitchens, as well as miniature golf parks, batting cage facilities, kart racing centers, and tanning salons.
Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas voted to keep the Health Officer order in place, saying while there are “downsides to every decision,” Los Angeles has been able to keep hospitals from being overwhelmed in comparison to other regions.
“Allowing outdoor dining, where people of mixed households gather to dine and mingle without face masks is inconsistent to our request for people to stay home,” Ridley-Thomas said in a statement. “I hope this Board will continue to prioritize strategies that are designed to get our metrics low enough so that we can reopen schools and get our children back to optimal learning as quickly as possible… I think incremental efforts to re-open the economy have made it more difficult for us to leave the most restrictive tier and safely move in this direction.”
L.A. County saw its highest number of single-day positive COVID-19 cases on Monday, with 6,124 new cases reported, however, around 1,500 cases were backlog cases due to reporting systems being updated over the weekend.
The single-day case numbers were lower at 3,692, Tuesday, although the 51 recorded deaths were the most since September 9, according to L.A. Public Health.
If L.A. county records a 5-day average of more than 4,500 positive cases or 2,000 total hospitalizations, a more restrictive stay-at-home order will be implemented for three weeks.
Restaurant Industry Response
Small business restaurants in L.A. County are fighting against the outdoor dining ban, under the same premise that Supervisors Barger and Hahn held.
The California Restaurant Association filed a request to halt the ban, but a Superior Court Judge declined the request, Tuesday.
On Wednesday, the California Coalition for Safe Reopening, led by West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce CEO Genevieve Morrill, held a press conference asking county officials to consider a “reopening task force” that could provide long-term opening solutions for businesses such as rapid COVID-19 testing and certifications that include “COVID-safe training” for employees. The coalition is also planning a march against restaurant restrictions, scheduled for December 7.
The Long Beach Restaurant Association also responded to the most recent in-person dining ban with a call for county and city officials to meet with people within the hospitality sector and work together to set parameters for the rest of the pandemic.
Long Beach is one of two L.A. County cities that has its own health department and does not adhere to L.A. Public Health guidelines, but the City of Long Beach Health Department will be implementing an in-person dining ban in conjunction with the county’s.
Pasadena is the other L.A. County city that has its own independent health department and while the city is not adhering to to the on-site dining ban, it is required to follow the state orders of shutting down non-essential businesses from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.