Los Angeles County Coronavirus Update: 20% Of Local Restaurants Still Violating COVID Rules

While a decision was expected Tuesday from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on the possible reopening of indoor shopping malls and hair salons, none was forthcoming. The board did, however, approve a sweetheart deal for Gladstone’s restaurant at PCH and Sunset. More on that later.

Speaking of restaurants, Los Angeles County health officials revealed that inspections last weekend found that 20 percent of local restaurants continue to be in violation of county-mandated anti-coronavirus protocols. That rate is down, but not as much as one would think, from the results of similar inspections in early July which found 33 percent of restaurants violating physical distancing requirements and 44 percent of restaurants were failing to meet face mask/shield mandates for employees.

“As we look at the possibility of re-opening more businesses and, eventually, schools, there is a lot at stake,” said County Health Department Director Barbara Ferrer. “This does not help us get our numbers down.”

Hoping to address compliance issues at businesses, the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a motion calling for the creation of trained worker “health councils,” which will monitor companies’ adherence to health orders.

“Health councils will strengthen our compliance system and allow concerned employees and community nonprofits to serve as additional ‘eyes and
ears’ to help us contain the pandemic,” Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said. “We all need to pitch in to protect public safety and fight COVID-19.”

Kuehl was the sponsor of the “Gladstone’s Rent Relief” motion, which was approved by the council on Tuesday. The famed restaurant sits on land controlled by the county and pays rent to L.A. Kuehl’s motion allows Gladstone’s to pay only a percentage of its agreed-upon rent “for only such time as the applicable County Public Health Order restricts restaurants from operating below 100% capacity (i.e., 707 seats at Concessionaire’s restaurant), or until October 31, 2021, whichever is later.” That could mean the restaurant’s owners may be fully open but paying reduced rent for over a year if restaurants in L.A. are allowed to reopen before November 2020.

Gladstone’s, which has copious outdoor seating unaffected by the indoor dining ban, has long been one of the highest-grossing independent eateries in the U.S. As recently as 2017, it ranked in the top 100 according to Restaurant Business. It is owned by former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan.

Health officials also stepped up their campaign against public gatherings over the upcoming Labor Day holiday.

Officials fear a repeat of case spikes seen after the Memorial Day and Fourth of July weekends.

In a statement, the county Department of Public Health warned again that “it is important not to gather with people who aren’t part of your household as it puts you at risk for COVID-19.”

The county released a list of activities that are banned by the Health Officer Orders, “even if they feel safe.” Those activities included baby showers, gender-reveal parties, backyard barbecues for Labor Day, student study groups and “gathering at the each with friends over the hot weekend.”

The county Department of Public Health reported another 45 deaths due to the virus on Tuesday. The new deaths raised the overall total since the start of the pandemic to 5,830.

The county also announced another 840 new coronavirus cases — a rare dip below the 1,000 mark — while Long Beach reported 150 and Pasadena added
11. The total number of cases since the pandemic began stood at 242,781 as of Tuesday. Long Beach and Pasadena both have their own health departments separate from the county.

According to the county, the seven-day average daily number of new cases has dropped to 1,300, continuing a steady decline. Health officials have been reporting downward trends in new cases, deaths and hospitalizations — with 1,057 people hospitalized with the virus as of Tuesday.

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