The Beverly Hills City Council has unanimously voted to oppose Los Angeles County’s outdoor dining ban amid the worst COVID-19 surge the state has seen.
In a resolution approved Tuesday that calls for the L.A. County Board of Supervisors to repeal the ban, the council cited the detrimental impact on local businesses and said there was a lack of scientific evidence to support the ban.
The council also asked city staff to research the idea of forming a Beverly Hills public health department, which would allow the city to set its own rules for combating a pandemic.
“I am enraged by what the majority of the county supervisors voted on without having the data to do so, especially after all of us, these many, many months, have learned that eating outdoors was the safest way during COVID,” Councilwoman Lili Bosse said during Tuesday’s meeting.
Councilman Julian A. Gold was similarly incensed, citing Supervisor Sheila Kuehl’s decision to eat at an outdoor restaurant hours after she voted to uphold the ban.
“It says something about the arrogance of the supervisors,” Gold said. “I think we have to do everything we can … to reverse this.”
The county Board of Supervisors was divided when it approved the outdoor dining ban last week. The L.A. City Council has also voted to seek a repeal of the ban, saying a new round of permanent restaurant closures would result.
In addition to opposing the dining ban, the Beverly Hills council is asking that county restrictions be based on data, both local and industry-specific.
On Tuesday, L.A. County shattered its daily coronavirus record, reporting more than 7,500 new cases, which the director of public health called ‘the worst day thus far” of the pandemic.
The council’s vote came after scores of Beverly Hills residents expressed vehement opposition to the outdoor dining ban.
Of the 922 emails the council received from the public about the issue, 919 were against the county’s order, officials said during the meeting.
Residents also expressed their dismay during the public comment portion of the meeting, conducted by phone and video.
“Our business has been devastated,” said Steve Scott Springer, general manager of Spago Beverly Hills. “We already had to lay off 100 employees. Now we’ve laid off 60 more.”
Josh Flagg, who serves on the Beverly Hills Cultural Heritage Commission, echoed Springer’s sentiments.
“Restaurants can’t survive like this,” Flagg said. “There has to be a happy medium. If it’s done the right way, if you’re responsible, there shouldn’t be a spike in COVID cases … Your safest space is an outdoor environment.”
Other residents cited Pasadena, which can set its own policies because it has its own public health department.
Outdoor dining is still allowed in Pasadena, but everyone at a table must be from the same household, with parties no larger than six, said city spokeswoman Lisa Derderian.
For now, Beverly Hills will continue to follow the county’s rules and has created a list of businesses offering takeout and delivery, city spokesman Keith Sterling said Wednesday.