Los Angeles County Eases Up on COVID-19 Citations
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Los Angeles County Eases Up on COVID-19 Citations

On March 16, 2021, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors (the “Board”) revised its protocol for issuing fines to businesses violating the County’s COVID-19 protocols, reversing course. These protocols were implemented in August 2020 at the Board’s direction, and have led to fines and temporary closures for a number of restaurants.

In July 2020, the Board passed a motion directing the Department of Public Health (the “Department”) to take stricter enforcement measures to ensure greater levels of compliance with COVID-19 safety protocols.  In August 2020, the Department responded to the Board’s motion by implementing a strict enforcement protocol and issuing citations to businesses not in compliance with the Health Officer Order (“HOO”), including a $500 fine for first violations. Subsequent violations would lead to more fines and a seven-day suspension of the business’s permit. Common violations leading to fines included unapproved outdoor structures, TVs being turned on at restaurants, staff without face shields and tables closer than eight feet apart.

The Board noted that the current enforcement protocols had the potential to lead to inequitable impacts and create “catastrophic economic losses” for business owners. The Board also noted that the current system to issue fines at the first inspections has “severely damaged trust” between business owners and the Department.

The Board directed the Department to change its Environmental Health Enforcement protocol so that businesses would not be fined on the first visit. Instead, inspectors will advise businesses of non-compliance, educate the business on the importance of health and safety protocols, and reserve monetary fines only for “the most significant violations.” Additionally, permit suspension or revocation would be reserved only for “significant violations or for repeated uncured violations.”


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