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Los Angeles County Officials Want Fines, Potential Closures For Businesses Violating Coronavirus Orders

Los Angeles, CA, Sunday, June 28,2020 – Izzy Jimenez and Rebecah Giusti join friends for drinks on the patio at the Down’n’Out Sports Bar, downtown. Governor Newsom orders bars to close as Covid-19 cases surge in California. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times) Newsom closes bars as Covid-19 surges, City Hall, Los Angeles, California, United States – 28 Jun 2020
Credit: Robert Gauthier/ Los Angeles Times/ Shutterstock

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors next week will consider establishing fines and more quickly shutting down businesses that fail to adhere to public health orders designed to control spread of the coronavirus.

“We wanted to have a public trust relationship with our business community,” Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said in a statement announcing the motion she introduced with Supervisor Janice Hahn.

“We assumed businesses, who had indicated they would comply with directives in order to reopen, would follow the rules, but last weekend suggests that far too many people are shrugging off the danger,” Kuehl said.

County health officials reported that during inspections last weekend, 49 percent of bars and 33 percent of restaurants were found to be violating physical distancing requirements, while 54 percent of bars and 44 percent of restaurants were failing to meet face mask/shield mandates for employees.

On Wednesday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered restaurants to close for dine-in service — though they will still be allowed to offer food for pickup or delivery.

The governor’s guideline to cease indoor operations for three weeks also included movie theaters, restaurants, indoor family entertainment businesses, card rooms and zoos. Over the weekend, the governor ordered bars and nightclubs closed.

Newsom said he is hoping that people will comply with the guidelines voluntarily. If they do not, the governor said he is deploying a “strike team” of government agencies to ensure compliance, especially where it concerns workplaces. Alcoholic Beverage Control, CalOSHA, the Department of Business Oversight, the Department of Consumer Affairs and the California Highway Patrol are among the agencies that will be enforcing the guidelines.

On Thursday, the governor said OSHA had sent out 350,000 letters to businesses laying out expectations in terms of “good business behaviors…in very, very prescriptive ways.” He revealed 10 state agencies that will be fanning out to encourage compliance, including, now, the Board of Barbers and Cosmetologists. “If we can’t enforce them through encouragement,” he warned, “we’ll have to lean in a little more.”

L.A. County officials are, it seems, looking to “lean in” even sooner.

“The recent spike in cases and hospitalizations is very, very serious and jeopardizes our ability to care for people who get sick,” said Kuehl. “This motion says, ‘Business owners, please take this seriously. We will fine you if you’re out of compliance, and if we find you’re out of compliance a second time, we will shut you down.’”


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