Op-Ed: Dining Ban is Bad Policy

Op-Ed: Dining Ban is Bad Policy

Op-Ed By Supervisors Janice Hahn and Kathryn Barger

Since it was announced this weekend, our phones have not stopped ringing with calls and texts from people opposing the ban on outdoor dining at restaurants that takes effect today. So many of the shutdowns during this pandemic have been devastating to industries but this one has generated such a backlash because it feels like a betrayal.

Restaurants had already been hit hard by COVID-19. When they were finally allowed to re-open, they invested what little they had left into the infrastructure for outdoor dining -- following the guidance set by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health itself. The Department of Public Health has also consistently noted the high level of compliance in protecting both patrons and employees at businesses at 95%.

The proposed policy to arbitrarily close outdoor dining abandons our restaurant workers who will be laid off right before the holidays. Without a new Federal stimulus package, the County will not be able to get them the support they need.

This policy is in response to a new surge in COVID-19 cases in LA County and across the state. We have seen massive numbers of new cases and hospitalizations continue to increase. The situation is dire and we do need to act, but we worry that this policy will do much more harm than good.

We were not presented with any data that proved that this surge is driven by outdoor dining. In fact, we have been told for weeks by our public health experts that our businesses are not the problem and that private gatherings and parties are driving the bulk of new cases.

Contact tracing is a messy science and on a scale this size, it is hard to tell with any certainty where people are really contracting this virus. But we know that indoor gatherings are much more dangerous than outdoor ones. And by eliminating the option for residents to gather at outdoor dining establishments that follow strict public health protocols, we will only drive people to socialize more at home.

On Tuesday we authored a motion that would have permitted outdoor dining to continue operating at 50% capacity and adherence to the new 10:00 pm curfew. Unfortunately we could not convince our colleagues to agree with us. The consequences of that decision will be devastating to thousands of businesses and workers during this already hard holiday season.

We have asked that the County allocate $10 million in our CARES Act funding to provide grants to restaurants, breweries and wineries. We will also continue to fight this seemingly baseless restriction while we pursue those safety measures that will truly have an impact on slowing the spread of COVID-19.

We need everyone to stop gathering with friends and family over these next few weeks, especially indoors. This situation is serious. Our healthcare employees, our workers, and businesses are depending on us turning this around.

Showing 4 reactions

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  • Richard Jensen
    commented 2020-12-03 15:59:07 -0800
    While I am glad that Janice and Kathryn did oppose the restaurant ban. We’re dealing with the much larger issue of government regulation that is over reaching. This group of elected officals really is so far out of touch with reality I don’t know what will bring them back. Yes we can have rules for people to follow to make being outside safer, but as a human species we can not be locked into nothingness. People need to be responsible for themselves.
    Our democrat elected officials need to be schooled in real life. We as the community need to take back our streets, businesses and lives. Remember in the 80’s and 90’s it was a war to take back our streets from the gangs, well now its about those elected who are uncaring about the propblems we face. Tell them to get out of our way, let us do it for ourselves.
  • Angela Marsden
    commented 2020-12-01 10:14:03 -0800
    Wonderful trueful peace. Thank you, Thank you and yes please talk about he bars that have never opened!!! These people are getting no rent breaks and going through there life savings. Please help.
  • Sugar Tim
    commented 2020-12-01 09:33:32 -0800
    None of you ever talk about the devastation you have unleashed on bars, clubs and music venues. Have you simply abandoned us? Unlike restaurants, we have been completely closed for nearly NINE MONTHS. We are capable of following guidelines too. How is eating a meal at an outdoor table any different (or safer) than drinking a beer at the same table? You never gave local neighborhood bars the option. Instead we have been vilified as “irresponsible” since the beginning. DO NOT FORGET US!
  • Emily Lintner
    published this page in Press Releases 2020-11-30 09:25:12 -0800