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Half of Inspected LA Restaurants Aren’t Following Coronavirus Rules, County Says

The shocking stat comes as the county continues with plans to soon open bars and wineries as well

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Photo by Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

Fully half of Los Angeles County restaurants inspected for coronavirus health and safety regulation compliance are not meeting the minimum standards, county health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said today. Dr. Ferrer told the public that inspectors had been sent out to check up on thousands of restaurants over the weekend, and they collectively found that “50 percent of the restaurants were still not in compliance” with at least a portion of the mandated protocols, including things like correct six-foot spacing between tables, or servers wearing both cloth face coverings and plastic face shields.

The alarming news came during the daily press briefings put on by Los Angeles County officials, after reporter Joel Grover from NBC4 asked about a perceived rise in restaurants not sticking to the guidelines set forth by the county. Some on social media have complained about large groups waiting for tables at brunch, or packed sidewalks with diners and tables set into the public right of way.

“We did have our teams out this weekend,” Dr. Ferrer responded. “They visited 2,000 restaurants. They found that 50 percent of the restaurants were still not in compliance. They’ll be revisiting all of the restaurants that were not in compliance, and issuing them an order to come into compliance.” Dr. Ferrer did not say specifically if the restaurants had been issued a warning or a return date for a new inspection, or any other punitive measures.

Dr. Ferrer continued: “I mean, we’ve been doing a lot of education, but starting this week we’re actually going to revisit places where we noted that people still had confusion, had concerns, still hadn’t quite made the changes. There should be no places where tables are right next to each other. There should either be a six foot barrier, or a physical barrier. Those are requirements in the protocols.”

Previously, Dr. Ferrer and county supervisor Kathryn Barger have said that restaurants would be able to self-certify as to their compliance, without intervention from the Department of Public Health. “This is like the honor system,” Dr. Ferrer said publicly on May 29, the first date for restaurants to reopen their dining rooms at 60 percent capacity. The county released its full guidelines for reopening later that night.

Eater reached out to the county and Department of Public Health for clarification on the new inspections, including information on any possible database or future grading system for restaurants that are or are not in compliance with ongoing coronavirus health and safety protocols set forth by county and city officials. The Department of Public Health has not yet responded.