In response to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors’ 3-2 vote Tuesday allowing further COVID-19-related closures to take effect Wednesday, Supervisor Kathryn Barger is calling for $10 million in federal CARES Act funding to be repurposed to aid impacted local businesses.
In their meeting Tuesday, the five supervisors voted 3-2 to move forward with a county Public Health Department-ordered ban on outdoor dining at restaurants, breweries and wineries, even after receiving more than 3,700 comments from the public concerned with these restrictions, which Barger termed “baseless.”
Barger, who represents L.A. County’s 5th District which includes the Santa Clarita Valley, had introduced a motion, co-authored by Supervisor Janice Hahn, that would have rescinded these closures and enabled outdoor dining to continue given the lack of any data to support dining as a means for significant community transmission.
Supervisors Solis, Ridley-Thomas and Kuehl opposed Barger and Hahn’s motion.
“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,” Barger said in a statement.
“There is no data to support closing dining establishments which makes this an arbitrary and capricious restriction — especially the day before Thanksgiving,” she said. “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.”
Barger continued: “Businesses have made incredible sacrifices to align with safety protocols to remain open in order to pay their bills and feed their families. 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.”
CARES Funding Motion
To provide support for the restaurant industry, 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,” Barger said. “Small businesses cannot withstand these constant changes and deserve better.”
In addition to Tuesday’s motion to rescind restaurant closures, 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,” Barger said. “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.”