Westside Businesses Demand Lockdown Answers
December 10, 2020
Photo: Outdoor dining has replaced indoor restaurant seating, by Mary Leipziger
Small businesses fighting to survive the Pandemic are demanding to know why authorities targeted their industries for shutdowns, says Bloomberg news.
Paul Tyler, who owns the John O'Groats restaurant in West LA, has no problem with the idea that saving lives must come above profits. But he says policy makers have to be more transparent about how they're going about it.
Tyler's business received a $166,000 loan under the federal Paycheck Protection Program approved by Congress in March. That covered a couple of months of payroll.
He also put money into seats for outdoor dining. But that's now banned too, and Tyler is trying to figure out how takeaway food alone can keep the restaurant going long enough to celebrate its 39th anniversary in February.
"Common sense has been lacking," from decision-makers as well as regular citizens, he says. He wonders why officials are banning al-fresco dining but not acting more forcefully against the kind of individual behavior identified by experts as high-risk.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for example, says crowded indoor spaces that are poorly ventilated are a top source of virus transmission.
Marco Pelusi runs a hair studio in West Hollywood, and says he was prepared to get closed down a second time because he's been following the surge in virus cases. Even so, he's disappointed that it's happening right now, when he's normally booked solid with clients who want to primp for the holidays –- and after spending money to enforce the last set of curbs.
"We've increased our sanitation exponentially," he says, and customers generally said they felt safer as a result. "I also have yet to hear of anyone getting Covid at a hair salon."
There's no doubt that Californians are catching the disease somewhere. Over the past week, Los Angeles County has averaged 8,140 new cases a day, shattering records, according to nonprofit Covid Act Now.
At briefings with reporters, Barbara Ferrer, the L.A. county director of public health, has been pressed for data backing the need to shut outdoor dining.
She said meeting friends for dinner is different from activities like shopping, where people spend less time in one place and can wear masks throughout. "We did do things differently" in the new lockdown, she said. "It's particularly because of what we learned."