A motion proposed by L.A. County Supervisors Janice Hahn and Kathryn Barger to overrule the prohibition failed with a 2-3 vote on Tuesday.
As of Wednesday at 10 p.m., restaurants will no longer be allowed to serve dine-in customers on patios or other outdoor seating arrangements. For at least the next three weeks, food service businesses including restaurants, bars, breweries and wineries will be limited to takeout, delivery or drive-through sales.
“There are no positives to this inarguably bad decision,” Stuart Waldman, president of the Valley Industry & Commerce Association in Van Nuys, said in a statement. “Shutting down dine-in options will worsen our local economy, put people out of their jobs right before the holidays and lead to more COVID-19 cases as people continue to gather in even more unsafe situations.”
Waldman said restaurants can’t survive on take-out alone, and called it “unfortunate the board moved to kill Los Angeles County businesses and the thousands of jobs they provide.”
The California Coalition for Safe Reopening – a group of chambers of commerce and other business organizations – held a press conference Wednesday in West Hollywood decrying the decision. Among the coalition’s members is the Greater San Fernando Valley Chambers of Commerce.
The group called the outdoor dining restriction “arbitrary and costly.”
“The results will be catastrophic for an already struggling business community who are looking for alternatives such as rapid testing in order to protect their employees, families and communities,” it said in a statement.
Barger and Hahn, both of whom represent Valley neighborhoods on the Board of Supervisors, publicly opposed the outdoor dining restriction, and co-authored the motion to allow food service businesses to continue serving dine-in customers outdoors at 50 percent capacity.
After the motion was shot down, Hahn said in a statement: “It would be one thing if we had a new stimulus from the federal government so that we could help the restaurants and the people losing their paychecks — but we don’t. I don't think we have the data to prove that outdoor dining is driving the recent surge in cases, nor do we have the data to assure us that this action will turn our case numbers around.”
To provide some financial support for the restaurant industry, Barger asked the county to repurpose $10 million in CARES Act funding to create a grant program for restaurants, breweries and wineries affected by the outdoor restriction.
“We asked businesses to invest substantial resources to ensure safety, only to force them to close,” Barger said in a statement. “Small businesses cannot withstand these constant changes and deserve better.”