Venice Neighborhood Council members Wednesday pushed for the Los Angeles City Council to demand the county’s Department of Public Health allow outdoor in-person dining to resume at restaurants.
At its Tuesday night meeting, the VNC passed a resolution that stated the county has allowed outdoor in-person dining on film sets and that it should set the same standards for brick-and-mortar establishments.
“… Venice Neighborhood Council calls upon the city of Los Angeles to call upon the county Department of Public Health to immediately quantify the protocols under which film companies have been allowed to provide outside dining to their crews on film sets and to allow all restaurants in Los Angeles County to re-open outside dining under the same protocols,” the resolution stated.
The vote on the resolution was nearly unanimous, with 17 VNC council members voting in favor and one voting in opposition and one absence.
The VNC resolution stated the pandemic has crippled the restaurant industry and threatens to put many locations out of business, and the most recent restrictions from the county disallowing outdoor in-person dinning are setting them even further back.
The VNC’s resolution also noted the tens of thousands of restaurant jobs that have been lost and more that could be lost without some kind of sustainable revenue.
The county Department of Public Health imposed the outdoor in-person dining ban on Nov. 25, citing increasing COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. The county Board of Supervisors debated the issue on Nov. 24, but voted 3-2 to support the ban, arguing that restaurant patrons spend extended periods of time in close proximity and without wearing masks.
In the meantime, county health officials reported Tuesday that there are only 115 intensive-care unit beds available, as COVID-19 cases continue to surge.
Los Angeles County health officials acted “arbitrarily” and without a proper “risk-benefit” analysis when they banned outdoor dining as a coronavirus-control measure, a judge ruled last week in a lawsuit brought by California Restaurant Association against the county, but the decision didn’t immediately restore in-person dining.
Restaurants can still deliver and provide take-out meals.
Mark Ryavec, a community officer of the VNC who wrote the resolution, said he would like to see more concrete data behind the county’s reasoning for shutting down in-person outdoor dining at restaurants.
“We have four to six more months of some level of lockdown, and that’s six more months of people not being able to pay rent,” Ryavec said. “You have to start somewhere.”
FilmLA, the nonprofit organization that oversees filming in the region, stated on its website people working on film sets are required to adhere to COVID-19 orders set by the county.
“Current orders impose requirements on film productions regarding workplace social distancing, use of personal protective equipment, hours of filming activity, regular sanitation and employee testing,” the website states. “The protocols do not limit the size of productions in terms of people, beyond what is safe and practical for social distancing in a confined space.”
The county’s guidelines for dining on film sets requires all actors and crew to wash or sanitize their hands before handling any food, no buffets are allowed, no communal food or drink service (therefore no coffee pots or single-service coffee maker) and all food and drink must be single serving only.
Additionally, craft service dining must be held outdoors and sit-down meals must be eaten in shifts or seating areas large enough to allow for physical distancing of six feet or more.