LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors next week will consider beginning the process of establishing fines and more quickly shutting down businesses that fail to adhere to public health orders designed to control spread of the coronavirus.
“We wanted to have a public trust relationship with our business community,” Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said in a statement announcing the motion she introduced with Supervisor Janice Hahn.
“We assumed businesses, who had indicated they would comply with directives in order to reopen, would follow the rules, but last weekend suggests that far too many people are shrugging off the danger,” Kuehl said. “The recent spike in cases and hospitalizations is very, very serious and jeopardizes our ability to care for people who get sick. This motion says, ‘Business owners, please take this seriously. We will fine you if you’re out of compliance, and if we find you’re out of compliance a second time, we will shut you down.”
County health officials reported earlier this week that during inspections last weekend, 49% of bars and 33% of restaurants were found to be violating physical distancing requirements, while 54% of bars and 44% of restaurants were failing to meet face mask/shield mandates for employees.
According to the motion, inspectors might visit a business that is violating rules as many as five times before shutting it down.
“Often, a health inspector advises a business on the first visit of areas of non-compliance and might issue a violation order on the second or third visit, depending upon the severity of the violations,” the motion states. “Perhaps on the third, fourth or fifth visit, the business will be temporarily shut down. At no point in the process is a fine currently issued in connection with a violation order or at any other time, even though (the Department of Public Health) has code enforcement authority to issue fines for non-compliance.”
The motion asks public health officials to report back within two weeks with a plan for incorporating fines into the enforcement efforts “to ensure greater levels of compliance.” The motion does not specify what those fines should be.
The board is scheduled to consider the motion Tuesday.