In response to some restaurants being shut down after setting up pop-up grocery markets, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to issue new guidelines to keep businesses open while keeping consumers safe.
Supervisor Janice Hahn recommended making clear what restaurants are and aren’t allowed to do to keep revenues coming in as they struggle to stay afloat without dine-in business.
Some restaurant owners have been selling unprepared food, such as excess produce that they’ve ordered but can no longer use given the drop-off in customers.
Hahn said she’d like to see restaurants allowed to sell whole uncut produce, eggs, uncooked meat and other food as a part of their delivery, take-out or curbside pickup operations.
“Like so many other business owners, these small restaurants have been put in a challenging situation, and they are trying to come up with creative solutions to keep their doors open, pay their employees and feed their communities,” Hahn said. “These restaurants want to be part of the solution.”
Pop-up markets inside restaurants — where patrons effectively shop for groceries — will not be allowed, county Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer told the board.
Ferrer’s staff has been enforcing the law and ordering some businesses to shut down.
“You can’t really open as grocery store if you’re not licensed as a grocery store,” Ferrer said. “But we’ve already been working with the restaurants — they can certainly include grocery products in their delivery, their takeout, their drive-through.”
Restaurants are allowed to list grocery items on their menus and package them up as an order for patrons. What won’t be allowed is having customers walk down makeshift aisles to hand-pick products and then take them to a cashier.
“We can allow them to operate as restaurants with this expanded capacity to deliver grocery items,” Ferrer said.
The leeway won’t extend to non-food items — like toilet paper — that some restaurants are offering, Hahn said.
Hahn’s motion was unanimously approved and specific guidelines are expected to be posted on the Department of Public Health’s website within a week.
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