Anger, Heartbreak After L.A. County's Outdoor Dining Ban

L.A. County’s restaurant community was left reeling last week after health officials shut down outdoor dining to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Outdoor dining was a final resort that many restaurants had come to rely on. Some spent thousands on heating, tenting, and other improvements to move patrons outside.

The latest public health restriction has received significant pushback from the business community, two county supervisors, and numerous cities. Whittier’s City Council has passed a resolution opposing the measure. Pasadena, which has its own public health department, will keep its restaurants open. Even the Los Angeles City Council has asked the county to reconsider.

The California Restaurant Association asked a court to block the order last week, but the judge sided with public health officials. The L.A. County Board of Supervisors also debated the issue. It ultimately voted to uphold the ban.

Supervisors Janice Hahn and Kathryn Barger disagree with the decision to close outdoor dining.

Barger wrote the following on Facebook:

There is no data to support closing restaurants. This action was arbitrary and only further encourages private gatherings, which is where the virus is actually spreading.

To support businesses in the interim, I’m asking the County to immediately repurpose $10 million in CARES Act funding for grants for restaurants, breweries, and wineries that will be devastated by the closure of outdoor dining and the new County Health Officer Orders, which are significantly more restrictive than the State’s. We asked businesses to invest substantial resources to ensure safety, only to force them to close. Small businesses cannot withstand these constant changes and deserve better.

The L.A. City Council overwhelming voted today to keep restaurants open, and our own Board received more than 3,000 public comments in favor of allowing businesses to remain open.

The restaurant health restrictions followed an alarming rise in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in L.A. County. There were another 5,087 cases reported in L.A. on Thanksgiving Day. Hospitalizations have climbed 70% in just two weeks, Health Services Director Dr. Christina Ghaly said Wednesday.

In addition to the restaurant closures, L.A. has announced a new stay-at-home order effective Monday, Nov. 30, with even stricter rules to be announced. Read more about the latest order here.