The city of Pasadena continues to allow outdoor dining at its restaurants today, marking a direct departure with the LA County Department of Public Health order banning on-site dining for at least the next three weeks. The San Gabriel Valley city has its own public health department and thus makes its own rules for such things, though historically Pasadena’s DPH has been in lock-step with the LA County DPH on pandemic-related public health decisions. Not this time.
In a call with restaurant owners and other business leaders on Wednesday afternoon last week, city government officials laid out a plan to keep outdoor dining afloat at restaurants within city limits for as long as possible, citing the financial hardships that restaurants had already gone through to erect outdoor spaces in the first place.
What’s more, Pasadena city manager Steve Mermell said in the meeting, the city itself had spent thousands reshaping its own public right of ways, including adding safety barriers, re-striping parking spots, and more in an attempt to boost outdoor dining earlier this year. Mermell also noted that the city’s own department of public health would be stepping up enforcement of things like social distancing requirements and mask-wearing at restaurants, and asked all owners and workers on the call to abide by the strict coronavirus protocols or face the consequences — including a shutdown of on-site dining citywide.
Per the LA Times, Pasadena city inspectors visited 60 different restaurants on Wednesday and Thursday of last week, after the larger LA County on-site dining ban had taken effect. Of those inspected, fully two-thirds were not completely in compliance with the longstanding coronavirus protocols. Per Pasadena city spokeswoman Lisa Derderian: “The most common violations included no face shields, tables not properly distanced and enclosed dining areas.”
KNX 1070 radio reporter Emily Valdez reported over the weekend that five different restaurants had been shut down for not properly following COVID-19 protocols, though the restaurants themselves have not been named. Several of those restaurants had previous infractions against them, reports KTLA, meaning their public operating licenses were revoked entirely for the time being — so no takeout or delivery for now.
As of now, outdoor dining at restaurants will continue in Pasadena, though Derderian previously told the Times that city officials would meet again today to discuss any possible modifications to the public health order for that city. Officials stated in their meeting last week that they would continue to assess the viability of outdoor dining on a daily basis, with Derderian adding that it “is a possibility” that on-site outdoor dining could cease at any time.
Meanwhile, public health officers continue to also break up gatherings and enforce mask-wearing and social distancing at public parks and around the Rose Bowl area, where groups often gather to social and exercise. Across the rest of Los Angeles, a new safer-at-home order goes into effect today, banning public gatherings, closing playgrounds, and more.