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Wednesday, November 25, 2020

County Supervisor Barger Remains Opposed to “Unnecessary” Restrictions on Restaurants, Asks Board to Bring in Outside Experts for Guidance

Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to move forward with a ban on outdoor dining at restaurants, breweries and wineries, even after receiving more than 3,700 comments from members of the public concerned with these restrictions.

Supervisor Kathryn Barger introduced a motion, co-authored by Supervisor Janice Hahn that would have rescinded these closures and enabled outdoor dining to continue given the lack of any data to support dining as a means for significant community transmission.

The motion was denied on a 3-2 vote with Supervisors Solis, Ridley-Thomas and Kuehl opposing.

“The current Health Orders seem to take the approach that sectors should remain closed throughout the entire County, instead of focusing only on necessary closures in sectors that carry an inordinate and proven risk,” said Supervisor Kathryn Barger. “There is no data to support closing dining establishments which makes this an arbitrary and capricious restriction — especially the day before Thanksgiving. Furthermore, this action will only further encourage individuals to participate in private gatherings, without any of the necessary public health safety measures, which is where the virus is more likely to spread.”

“Businesses have made incredible sacrifices to align with safety protocols to remain open in order to pay their bills and feed their families,” Supervisor Barger said. “Our hospitalization rates are among the lowest we’ve seen. Yet, the rationale for further closures is tied to the number of patients in the hospital. We’ve come a long way to support workers and residents who are struggling to stay afloat and should not regress on the progress we’ve made.”

To provide support for the restaurant industry, Supervisor Barger is asking the County to immediately repurpose $10 million in CARES Act funding for grants allocated to restaurants, breweries, and wineries that will be devastated by 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,” Supervisor Barger continued. “Small businesses cannot withstand these constant changes and deserve better.”

In addition to today’s motion to rescind restaurant closures, Supervisor Barger introduced a motion that was unanimously approved to engage local universities to provide technical expertise to the Department of Public Health and the Board of Supervisors regarding COVID-19 related prevention strategies and response efforts.

“The County has reached a critical junction in protecting the public health of our residents but must also consider the immediate and long-term consequences of extended closures and isolation,” said Supervisor Barger. “We must utilize all of the resources available to us and engage experts for guidance and counsel on how to best serve our communities holistically.”

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