California Food Fight: Some Southern California restaurants are ignoring countywide COVID-19 restrictions

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HERMOSA BEACH, Calif. (NewsNation Now) —  Some restaurants in Southern California continue to serve customers despite a county ban on all in-person dining.

A “French Laundry Patio Dining” banner sits right below the permanent sign at the restaurant Eat At Joe’s. It is an obvious jab at Gov. Gavin Newsom’s controversial dinner party in Napa Valley last month.

“He thinks it’s okay to go to a swanky, $3,000 a plate, whatever it was, $175 a plate dinner with his friends, without masks, hanging out, and the rest of us can’t even eat out with our family,” Alex Jordan, owner of Eat At Joe’s said.

In the week since LA County shut down all outdoor dining, businesses are openly defying, complying, completely shutdown or working around it by keeping their patios open without table service.

At Joe’s, civil disobedience has brought in new business.

“I personally believe that my own personal risk is about 96% I’m going to be absolutely fine and there was more risk for me getting in my car to drive here,” said patron John Hoppe.

The California Restaurant Association is suing the county because the Los Angeles ban actually goes beyond what the governor has called for under state guidelines.

“When you’re outdoors, there is simply enough ventilation where you’re not going to have that same level of risk. So that is why the Governor for example has allowed most outdoor activities to take place, including outdoor dining at 50% capacity,” Dennis Ellis, California Restaurant Association Attorney said.

Wednesday, a judge refused to lift the ban but gave the county until Friday to present supporting evidence.
Health officials are holding firm on the shutdown.

Tuesday brought a new high of nearly 7,600 coronavirus cases in LA County and an average of 8,000 cases per day is projected by week’s end.

Despite that, Beverly Hills has joined the food fight, adopting a resolution to oppose the county ban.
Like at least three other cities, Beverly Hills may join Pasadena in having its own health department.

“If they have their own health department, they can have their own rules and consider their own guidelines and open up outdoor dining. I like the fact that we can go out and get some fresh air and get a bite to eat and hang out,” said Justin Monem, Beverly Hills resident.

The restaurant battle even spilled into the streets Wednesday with a protest march demanding that restaurants be allowed to reopen in Long Beach.

California reported a fourth-straight record high for COVID-19 hospitalizations. Nationally, COVID-19 hospitalizations surpassed 100,000.

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