LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Tuesday that the city would investigate complaints of non-essential businesses that remained open despite orders to close due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Safer at Home Business Ambassadors Program would deploy neighborhood prosecutors assigned to police stations around the city to help enforce the closure orders.
“Believe me when I say nobody wants to be punitive at a time like this,” Garcetti said. “My ideal is 100% self-compliance, and we all hope for the same thing: We want fewer people to get sick and die. … We can achieve those goals but only if we all do our part.”
Garcetti said the move was intended to remind businesses that they needed to close, but he said continued noncompliance could result in citations or, in extreme measures, the city could cut off their utilities. He further asked people to remind nonessential businesses to close as a preemptive measure.
Grocery stores, health care facilities and pharmacies are some examples of essential businesses allowed to remain open. Restaurants and bars can only remain open for takeout and delivery service.
Garcetti said most Angelenos have adhered to the city’s orders, but his office was still getting reports of people gathering in crowds of more than 10 people, which he called “irresponsible and selfish.”
“The peak is not here yet. The peak will be bad,” he said. “The best way to save the economy is to save lives.”
Garcetti, in a not-so-subtle response to President Donald Trump, said that the city would not revoke measures to stop the spread of the illness until it was safe.
“We can’t wish coronavirus away, and let me just pause and go off script for a moment,” he said. “Because I know that everybody is hopeful and some are putting out that hope of us being back in churches by Easter or synagogues by Passover of restarting the economy in a couple of weeks.
“I think we owe it to everybody to be straightforward and honest that we will not be back in Los Angeles, we will not be back to that normal in that short period of time,” he said. “I have said to be prepared for a couple of months like this.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom agreed in his daily update, slamming Trump for setting up a timeline that he said was impossible.
“The next six to eight weeks are pivotal,” he said. “I think April for California would be sooner than any of the experts that I talk to would believe is possible.”
On Tuesday, the city was able to test about 2,800 people through a new online portal intended for people experiencing symptoms of the virus who are 65 years or older or have underlying health issues.
Garcetti said the city should be able to double that capacity to 5,600 tests per day this week.
And on Tuesday night, one Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department helicopter pilot took to the skies to remind people of the stay at home orders currently in place.
The flight pattern of the Lakewood-based helicopter, Sky Night, spelled out “Stay home.”
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)