LA County official votes to ban outdoor dining at restaurants over COVID-19 — then dines outdoors just hours later

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A Los Angeles County supervisor voted to ban outdoor dining at restaurants over COVID-19 concerns — and then just hours later dined outside a Santa Monica eatery,
KTTV-TV reported.

What are the details?

The station said it received multiple tips that shortly after her vote last Tuesday, Supervisor Sheila Kuehl was seen dining outside Il Forno Trattoria, an Italian restaurant near her home that she’s described as one of her “favorite” places to dine.

While restaurant managers had no comment for KTTV, a Kuehl spokesperson offered the station the following statement:
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.”

Image source: KTTV-TV video screenshot

At last week’s L.A. County Board of Supervisors meeting, Kuehl referred to outdoor dining as “a most dangerous situation” due to the risk of servers being infected by unmasked patrons, KTTV reported.

“This is a serious health emergency, and we must take it seriously,” Kuehl said, according to the station. “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.”

Kuehl voted to ban outdoor dining in the county, and the measure passed 3-2, KTTV said. The ban will last for three weeks, the station said in a previous story.

More from the station:

Kuehl’s visit to the restaurant came before the outdoor dining ban took effect Wednesday evening, but her decision is likely to draw criticism from those who have grown frustrated with elected officials taking a hypocritical approach to what they have preached, as Kuehl dined at the restaurant a mere hours after she said doing such a thing was unsafe and could contribute to the surge in COVID-19 cases.

L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn who strongly opposed the decision to ban outdoor dining reacted to our reporting tonight on FOX 11’s Special Report with Elex Michaelson.

“We have to remember that we who are in public office are held to a very high standard, as we should be, and one of the things I’m realizing with some of these new restrictions: if we can’t garner the trust of the public to be with us in this fight against the virus, then we’ve lost a big battle, and I’m feeling that now … nine months into this is we’re beginning to lose the trust of the public,” Hahn said, according to KTTV.

What did restaurant owners have to say?

Local restaurant owner Michael Voltaggio told the station he’s stunned by Kuehl’s actions: “That sends a message that we’re getting direction from people that aren’t really believing in the decisions that they’re making.”

“For me it’s just proof of the continuous hypocrisy and just the lack of leadership and education as to what’s happening right now in this sort of shoot-from-the-hip mentality that’s not doing anyone any good,” he added to KTTV.

Josiah Citrin, who owns multiple restaurants across L.A. County, told the station, “I’m like, ‘Wait a minute, restaurants are so dangerous, but you’re gonna go eat in a restaurant?’ I mean, to me it just blows me away.”

Anything else?

Kuehl also co-authored a measure that supervisors voted to place on last month’s ballot aimed at redistributing nearly $1 billion in funding from county law enforcement to “social programs.” County voters approved Measure J, KABC-TV reported.

“It’s time to bring our budget into alignment with our actions, intentions and vision,” Kuehl said of her measure. “The supervisors have said we want to move people from custody to care, and our constituents are pleading with us to expand housing and treatment options and stop relying on punitive, outdated law enforcement tactics.”

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