LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — After drawn-out debate, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted on Tuesday to allow breweries, wineries, and card rooms to reopen.
The vote was split 3-2, with Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Mark Ridley-Thomas dissenting.
The state has already given many of these businesses the green light to reopen with limited capacity, pending the authorization of individual counties.
Public health director Barbara Ferrer said there are only seven card rooms countywide, and she would be open to considering allowing them to open outdoors without food or beverages served at tables.
Ferrer also noted that breweries have already been permitted to reopen if they have in-house meal services. Other counties have allowed breweries and bars to reopen if there is a food truck.
The public health chief did not go as far as recommending any changes to the current health order, but near the end of the meeting Supervisor Janice Hahn introduced a motion that was not on the agenda to allow breweries and wineries to open outdoors in one week — with limited hours and required reservations.
Kuehl said she did not support the motion, partly due to the fact that Ferrer did not recommend it.
“In my humble opinion, it’s not a great idea to say, `Thank you, Dr. Ferrer, but we’re not going to listen to your advice,” Kuehl said.
Ridley-Thomas noted that motions not on the agenda are usually considered at future meetings, unless it is an urgent matter. He pressed for Hahn to allow the board to reach a consensus.
“We’ve done well in terms of hanging together…that’s typically the case because each of us has sufficient notification of what is coming,” Ridley-Thomas said.
He asked for “an opportunity to reflect on what’s at stake here. To move this quickly against data that is emanating from the state that predicts a surge…strikes me as being problematic.”
Ferrer said that there may be a legal issue with treating bars and breweries differently, but Hahn did not ask for the county counsel’s advice before calling for a vote.
“I don’t want to be trapped to think, ‘Oh just because we want to incrementally allow breweries [to reopen], we would have to open thousands and thousands of bars. I don’t think we should be held to that,” Hahn said during the earlier discussion with Ferrer. “I’m much more interested in doing these little incremental openings to throw some lifelines.”
Ferrer said that the county is relying on the public and business owners to adhere to current health restrictions once more businesses reopen. She said the county complaint line gets about 2,000 calls per week about noncompliance.
Hahn acknowledged the difficult decisions being made to reopen businesses across the county.
“I know somebody’s going to get sick and somebody could probably die for every little bit we open, but that’s a responsibility that we’re all taking together,” she said. “And until we get a vaccine, again, walking out your front door you are at risk for catching this deadly, horrible, contagious virus. But we’re threading the needle between people’s livelihood and their health.”
L.A. County is still in the state’s most restrictive tier, signifying continued widespread transmission of COVID-19.
The county on reported announced 40 new coronavirus-related deaths, including Long Beach and Pasadena. The new deaths brought the cumulative countywide death toll to 6,553.
An additional 965 cases were also reported, bringing the total number of cases to 269,344. Hospitalizations were up to 714, from 663 on Monday.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)