By CBSLA Staff

SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — Orange County plans to start rewarding restaurants for complying with COVID-19 guidelines.

On Thursday, O.C. officials announced a program where restaurant owners can apply for $1,000 grants to reimburse them for money they’ve spent on personal protective equipment or cleaning supplies since March.

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“There’s so many of us that are struggling,” said O.C. restaurant owner Will Dee. “But $1,000? I’m extremely grateful.”

The money comes from the $10 million the county received in federal coronavirus relief funding.

Eligible restaurants must “have had no major violations from the last health inspection,” said Orange County Supervisor Andrew Do, adding that he hopes the measure will encourage further adherence to coronavirus safety guidelines.

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Several restaurants across the county have either had major outbreaks and were forced to shut down or have openly defied the governor’s orders regarding masks and social distancing.

Some restaurants repeatedly reopened even when the state ordered them to close.

“We believe voluntary participation is the best way to get the word out there to inform the public and make it a part of our lives,” Do said. “We know we’ll be living with COVID-19 and different levels of reopening for our county and community for at least the next three to six months, so this is part of our new normal at least for the time being.”

Lucy Dunn, president and CEO of the Orange County Business Council, praised the county supervisors for the program, named Safe Dine O.C., which is also intended to help reassure restaurant goers that where they’re eating is safe. Once restaurants have received the grants, they will be listed on a website that people can check before they go out.

“When the public sees a posted piece of paper on the front doors” of the restaurants receiving grants in the program, it gives them that little extra assurance that this is a restaurant that cares about their customers and their workforce, she said.

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(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)