- Pasadena and Beverly Hills are among some cities located within Los Angeles County that are pushing back on the latest COVID-19 restrictions as they relate to in-person dining.
- The City of Pasadena, which has its own public health department, broke from the county order and will continue to allow outdoor dining, but plans to focus on enforcing mask and physical distancing rules.
- The City of Beverly Hills passed a resolution demanding a repeal of the outdoor dining ban and directed city staff to explore the possibility of establishing its own health department, an idea a number of other cities in LA County are considering.
- “There’s been very little data or scientific evidence put forth by the LA County Department of Public Health to support a county-wide closure,” Beverly Hills Mayor Lester Friedman told Business Insider.
- LA County is experiencing its worst coronavirus outbreak so far, breaking its record of daily new cases on Tuesday with more than 7,500.
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Pasadena and Beverly Hills are among some cities located within Los Angeles County that are pushing back on the latest COVID-19 restrictions.
Los Angeles County is the largest in the nation and encompasses a population of more than 10 million. It also includes over 100 cities and unincorporated areas —including the city of Los Angeles, home to roughly 4 million.
The LA County public health officials banned in-person dining last week as part of the county’s newest health order intended to slow the spread as coronavirus cases surge. On Tuesday, the county set its record for daily new case count with more than 7,500.
But the City of Pasadena, located in Los Angeles County, decided against going along with the county’s order and will continue to allow in-person outdoor dining. As one of two cities in the county that has its own public health department, Pasadena can make, and enforce its own coronavirus restrictions.
“We like to coordinate and align with the county as much as we can,” Lisa Derderian, Pasadena city spokeswoman, told Business Insider. “But there are certain situations where we feel strongly and in this case, we didn’t want to single out restaurants.”
Derderian said the Pasadena city council discussed the county order and listened to an hour of public comment, which consisted mostly of restaurant owners pleading to stay open. She said the central question was, “Do we have the data to show that our restaurants are driving up these numbers?”
The council decided there wasn’t enough evidence to support the outdoor dining ban, and instead are focusing on enforcement of mask and distancing rules.
Derderian said health inspectors are visiting the city’s 600-plus restaurants day by day to ensure compliance. Last week, they visited 60 restaurants and issued violations to more than half of them, she said. But after being written up and given two days to come into compliance, almost all of them did.
The most common violations involved servers not wearing face shields in addition to masks, and not having enough space between tables.
Pasadena is also asking restaurants to require reservations to prevent groups of people from gathering as they wait for a table. Derderian said some local restaurateurs say their weekends are filling up with reservations, including with people from out of town, based on their area codes.
The City of Beverly Hills officials had similar complaints with the county order. On Tuesday, the city council unanimously passed a resolution calling for the county’s in-person dining ban to be immediately repealed.
“There’s been very little data or scientific evidence put forth by the LA County Department of Public Health to support a county-wide closure,” Beverly Hills Mayor Lester Friedman told Business Insider.
He said because cities within the county have wide-ranging COVID-19 case numbers, and because businesses in some cities have been complying with health guidelines more than others, the universal and county-wide ban was a “capricious and ill-conceived idea.”
He also said singling out a business sector without the evidence to do so was extremely unfair, especially because “the restaurants have been compliant with every order that the county has set forth,” even spending money to do so.
Of the nearly 1,000 public comments the city received, only 3 disagreed with the council’s opposition to the ban, the mayor said. “It was the largest amount of public input that we’ve ever had on an item.”
In the resolution passed Tuesday, the Beverly Hills city council also directed city staff to look into the possibility of establishing a local City Health Department of Beverly Hills, as well as into legal action that could be taken against the county.
The mayor said the city had not recently considered establishing its own health department, but that “it’s an idea that we feel we need to explore if all the county department of health is doing is taking an overall view of the entire county.”
On Wednesday, one week after the in-person dining ban went into place, a judge ordered the county to provide scientific evidence that justifies the outdoor-dining ban, according to The Los Angeles Times. The county was asked to show the evidence in court next week.
In terms of the county’s largest city, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti issued a similar order to the county’s and gave a stark warning to residents Wednesday night, telling them to “hunker down.”
“It’s time to cancel everything,” he said in a video shared on Twitter. “If you’re able to stay home, stay home.”