LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl was spotted dining outdoors at a restaurant in Santa Monica hours after voting to uphold a ban on outdoor dining in LA County due to a surge in COVID-19 cases, according to media reports.
Kuehl had dinner at Il Forno Trattoria on Nov. 24, soon after voting to uphold the county’s new restrictions that were announced two days before, according to Fox11, which said it received multiple tips. During the board meeting, Kuehl called outdoor dining “a most dangerous situation.”
A representative for Kuehl told Fox11, “She did dine al fresco at Il Forno on the very last day it was permissible. She loves Il Forno, has been saddened to see it, like so many restaurants, suffer from a decline in revenue. She ate there, taking appropriate precautions, and sadly will not dine there again until our Public Health Orders permit.”
Kuehl was one of three board members voting to allow the ban to take effect as scheduled, while board members Kathryn Barger and Janice Hahn asked that outdoor dining be allowed to continue, arguing that the ban is too punitive to restaurants in response to a surge that has largely been blamed on private gatherings rather than outdoor dining.
“This is a serious health emergency and we must take it seriously,” Kuehl said, according to Fox11. “The servers are not protected from us, and they’re not protected from their other tables that they’re serving at that particular time, plus all the hours in which they’re working.”
The county Department of Public Health announced Nov. 22 that in-person dining would be halted at 10 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 25, and continuing for three weeks. The move came in response to a surge that has now seen new daily COVID- 19 cases average more than 4,000 over the previous five days.
“Outdoor dining is probably more dangerous in terms of contagion than any other kind of business,” Kuehl said at the time. Kuehl said diners at restaurants “sit for hours with no masks on” and are in close proximity to servers and patrons walking by.