REDONDO BEACH (CBSLA) — Eat at Joe’s in Redondo Beach continued to offer outdoor dining for its customers Monday, despite a Los Angeles County health order prohibiting the practice as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations surge.
Owner Alex Jordan said he was continuing in-person dining in an effort to protect his 11 employees and their families during the holiday season.
“Cutting them off four weeks before Christmas sat wrong with me,” he said.
On Monday, Dr. Barbara Ferrer, county public health director, said the temporary stoppage of in-person dining was not meant to punish hardworking businesses who have been in compliance with safety guidelines.
“Because people who are there are not able to wear their face coverings,” she said. “And the principle here is, if you don’t have that face covering on, there’s much greater risk of transmission.”
Natalie Burns and Sarah Davis were visiting from Las Vegas.
“It’s rough right now with local businesses,” Burns said. “I give them props for staying open and, you know, trying to save this business.”
“Walmart’s open, malls are open,” Davis said. “Airports are fully booking airplanes again.”
Ferrer said businesses that remain open do so at a reduced capacity and customers are required to wear face coverings the entire time — unlike at restaurants. She said this was the most difficult moment of the pandemic and said restaurants would get one warning for noncompliance.
“On the second round, there will be citations and/or people can have their food permit revoked,” she said. “We hope we never get there.”
But back in Redondo Beach, Jordan put up a banner at his restaurant mocking Gov. Gavin Newsom for his recent attendance at a birthday party at an upscale Northern California restaurant, even as restaurants like Eat at Joe’s have faced multiple rounds of restrictions.
“I’m not a person that easily wants to fight the system or anything,” Jordan said. “I just, I hit my wall.”
The county’s prohibition of in-person dining is expected to last a minimum of three weeks with fines between $500 and $1,000. During that time, restaurants are still allowed to offer takeout and delivery.