LA County Cracks Down on Restaurants Violating COVID-19 Health Orders
Posted in Legal Bites
LA County Cracks Down on Restaurants Violating COVID-19 Health Orders

On July 7, 2020, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors passed a motion to fine LA County businesses, including restaurants, for violations of COVID-19 public health orders, and to shut businesses down for non-compliance in as little as two health inspector visits. The motion was proposed by Supervisors Shelia Kuehl and Janice Hahn. 

In explaining the urgency of passing the motion, the proposal states: “on the weekend of June 27-28, inspectors found that 49% of bars and 33% of restaurants were not adhering to physical distancing protocols indoors and that 54% of bars and 44% of restaurants were not enforcing the requirement that workers wear face masks and face shields. Moreover, 65% of retail stores and 83% of restaurants failed to post DPH’s protocols, as required by local law. At the same time as DPH’s inspectors are seeing widespread non-compliance by businesses with public health directives, we are also seeing significant increases in the number of people leaving their homes and interacting with each other at these businesses. For instance, over 500,000 people visited nightlife spots in Los Angeles County on June 20th, the first weekend of reopening.”

In passing the motion, the Board found that the current practice of having a health inspector visit a business 3-5 times before shutting down the business was not sufficient for current public health needs. Under the proposal, a business could be fined for non-compliance after a single inspection, and have its permit be revoked as early as a second inspection of the business.

The Department of Public Health now has a two-week window to present an enforcement plan for approval by the Board.  The proposal will detail the amount of the fines to be levied, and the process for shutting businesses down.

Given the rapidly changing public health guidelines on the federal, state, and local level, fining and shutting down businesses for violations of public health orders could result in greater stress on struggling restaurants in LA County.

A copy of the motion is available here.

  • Pooja S. Nair
    Partner

    Pooja S. Nair is a business litigator and problem solver with a focus on the food and beverage sector. She advises food and beverage clients, startups and other businesses on a comprehensive range of issues, including employment ...

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