L.A. County Restaurants Buckle Under the Weight of New Outdoor Dining Restrictions
L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele in Hollywood was doing “pretty good” by most metrics when it came to adapting to the various Los Angeles County Public Health Department (LACDPH) restaurant safety protocols mandated throughout the span of the COVID-19 pandemic.
L’Antica Pizzeria managed to generate a sustainable profit through their outdoor dining operations, despite the taxing purchases of masks and state-of-the-art sanitation equipment which depleted large portions of their restaurant earnings.
Following the Nov.25 LACDPH-sanctioned suspension of all outdoor and on-premise dining in restaurants, the restaurant’s fate took an inauspicious foreshadowing as its ability to generate income has now diminished to a point where it’s “pretty much impossible” to make a sustainable profit, according to a L’Antica Pizzeria manager who requested anonymity.
“It’s not sustainable [using only take-out and delivery to generate income] it’s not even close. … It feels too tough and too hard to make enough profit where you can survive right now [and] it’s just pretty much impossible now,” the manager told Scriberr News.
The L’Antica Pizzeria manager added that business had noticeably decreased following the implementation of the new restrictions, and he was forced to lay off several of his employees as a result. He expressed vexation over the ramifications of the new safety order, and could only hope things would get better.
“It’s been bad [recently], [before these new restrictions] we were doing pretty good with the outdoor dining… but since we got shut down Thursday, [business] has been slow… I just hope it’s gonna pick up within the next couple of weeks,” he said.
“We had to lay off some of the people too, that were working on the floor and in dining. We all got impacted [after that], for sure as a business,” he continued.
“It’s really frustrating when you know that everywhere else around L.A. county … [they’re] still operating and serving, so it just doesn’t make sense anymore, that’s just the most frustrating part for sure.”
Tipsy Cow located in Sherman Oaks has felt the gravity of the new restrictions in parallel.
A manager at the Tipsy Cow, Jade Harrison, told Scriberr News that business is suffering, employees are being laid off and the idea of using pickups and deliveries as a means to generate sustainable profit was just “absolutely not” conceivable.
“No, absolutely not (using pickup and deliveries as a means to generate profit) and [these new restrictions are] much different than last time too. [Last time] the state was helping out a lot … and people were putting more money back out into the community, but now, I feel like everybody’s kind of scared and staying in, and we have been … very slow, way slower than the last lockdown.”
Harrison said she remorsefully had to lay off several of her employees following the implementation of the restrictions, feeling particularly dejected that she had to do so prior to the winter season holidays. The severity of the situation, however, left her without recourse.
“I had to lay off a bunch of people and, you know, tell them that their jobs are [still here] after the lockdown, but you know, it’s kind of tough [laying them off] before the holidays, these people with families who just lose their job.”
The new LACDPH restrictions come in response to Los Angeles County surpassing a 4,000 new COVID-19 case threshold within a five-day averaged total, documented from the dates of Nov. 18-22.
LACDPH health officials warned in the weeks prior, that the new restrictions would be enacted if the five-day average of new cases marked above 4,000, or if hospitalizations exceeded 1,750 per day.
By Nov. 22, the 5 day average had reached 4,097, consequently prompting officials to impose the new restrictions in accordance.
The rationale behind the LACDPH decision is largely assumed that the suspension of on-premise dining will reduce the rates of non-essential interactions; ergo, naturally diminishing the rate of infections locally and, by logical extension, curbing the total infection rate across Los Angeles County in consequence.
“I think one of the sad realities is that we’ve never seen a rate of increase as high as we’ve just seen. We know places where people are eating are places where transmission is easiest, and most likely,” Director of the LACDPH, Barbara Ferrer said in a press release.
Ferrer expounded upon her reasoning by expressing concern over a lack of restaurant compliance with the previous LACDPH-ordered safety protocols, an act of disregard which she noted could lead to high levels of spread and transmission throughout the county.
“Almost 20 percent of restaurants were not in compliance with social distancing mandates. In LA County, that’s more than 6,000 sites, which could easily translate to more than 300,000 people at increased risk of exposure if each of those sites had 50 people in them,” Ferrer said.
Although the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, as a collective, sanctioned the restrictions, the 5th district supervisor Kathryn Barger came out in public opposition to the board’s directive, maintaining that the majority of increased case numbers are not coming from restaurant operations but, in fact, from large and maskless gatherings.
“These proposed measures by the Department of Public Health will further devastate local businesses and employees who have been asked to shoulder an unfair burden this year,” Barger said in a statement.
“Businesses have made incredible sacrifices to align with safety protocols to remain open in order to pay their bills and feed their families, increased case counts are not coming from businesses reopening, but from large gatherings where people aren’t wearing masks,” she said.
“We aren’t helpless in slowing the spread of COVID-19 and can protect ourselves and our neighbors by maintaining physical distancing and wearing face coverings.”
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in response to the rocketing rates issued a “Safer at Home” order on Wednesday, Dec. 2, which called for a city-wide forgoing of in-person business operations and for Los Angeles County denizens to remain in their homes as much as possible.
Certain exemptions were made.
As of Thursday, Dec. 3, Los Angeles County has marked a total of 422,262 COVID-19 cases and 7,787 COVID-19-related-deaths since the pandemic’s inception.