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Hypocritical LA county supervisor dines at restaurant just hours after voting for outdoor dining ban

Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl is being labeled a hypocrite by Californians after visiting an eatery in Santa Monica, CA last week, just hours after she voted to ban outdoor dining at restaurants in the county due to COVID-19 safety concerns. She was spotted dining outside at Il Forno Trattoria, an Italian restaurant near her house. She had referred to outside dining as “a most dangerous situation” during an L.A. County Board of Supervisors meeting last Tuesday.

“This is a serious health emergency and we must take it seriously,” Kuehl emphatically stated. “The servers are not protected from us, and they’re not protected from their other tables that they’re serving at that particular time, plus all the hours in which they’re working.”

Kuehl’s dining experience occurred just hours before the outdoor dining ban took effect Wednesday evening. Managers at the restaurant said they “didn’t want to get involved,” and a spokesperson for Kuehl provided the following statement:

“She did dine al fresco at Il Forno on the very last day it was permissible. She loves Il Forno, has been saddened to see it, like so many restaurants, suffer from a decline in revenue. She ate there, taking appropriate precautions, and sadly will not dine there again until our Public Health Orders permit.”

Michael Voltaggio is a local restaurant owner who is simply stunned by Kuehl’s decision.

“That sends a message that we’re getting direction from people that aren’t really believing in messages they’re making,” he said.

He went on, “For me, it’s just proof of the continuous hypocrisy and just the lack of leadership and education as to what’s happening right now in this sort of shoot from the hip mentality that’s not doing anybody any good.”

Josiah Citrin also owns multiple restaurants across L.A. County.

Citrin said, “I’m like wait a minute, restaurants are so dangerous, but you’re gonna go eat in a restaurant? I mean it just blows me away.”

Kuehl, along with supervisors, Hilda Solis, and Mark Ridley-Thomas, support the order, which passed by a 3-2 margin. This will effectively shut down Los Angeles County’s 31,000 restaurants. Board of Supervisors Chair Kathryn Barger and Supervisor Janice Hahn unsuccessfully presented a last-minute measure to overturn the decision.

Some health officials have admitted that there is no specific scientific evidence to back up claims of a direct link between outdoor dining and the recent surge in COVID-19 cases.

L.A. County Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis claimed that the “best information we have that’s very specific to restaurants” was a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study that targeted 11 different outpatient healthcare facilities in 10 states, and found patients with coronavirus were twice as likely to have dined out at a restaurant.

There was no specific data presented in the study that distinguishes between infection rates among outdoor versus indoor dining. It was also conducted on a larger scale rather than specific to the Los Angeles County community.

“For [Dr. Davis] to say that they’re depending on the CDC when we’ve been doing this for seven months and, in fact, have been doing inspections that we don’t have data, and yet we are targeting one industry and saying with the number of cases rising we are going to shut [restaurants] down to me is irresponsible,” Barger said.

Barger went on to argue that data from the Department of Public Health showed only 10 to 15% of positive cases reported actually come from dining out with someone who tested positive. More than 50% reported being at a private social gathering with someone who tested positive.

“It’s frustrating to me that we are doing something that has no correlation to the surge, none,” she said. “We know what it is. It is public gatherings. And by closing restaurants, many of these people that have reservations are going to go where? Gatherings with other families because many of them didn’t have any plans. So I think it’s going to have the complete opposite effect.”

“We have to remember that we who are in public office are held to a very high standard as we should be and one of the things I’m realizing with some of these new restrictions is if we can’t garner the trust of the public to be with us in this fight against the virus, then we’ve lost a big battle and I’m feeling that now nine months into this is we’re beginning to lose the trust of the public,” Hahn said.

The order was issued before the Thanksgiving holiday. California has seen a rising number of cases and hospitalizations. As of early Tuesday, at least 381,535 total confirmed coronavirus cases and 7,249 deaths have been reported, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

Starting Monday until at least December 20, people in L.A. County are not allowed to gather with non-household members both indoors and outdoors. Grocery and retail stores must further limit how many customers can come in at a time. Playgrounds are closed. Zoos, museums, and gyms are outdoor-only and at 50% capacity. Restaurants are takeout and delivery only. Hiking trails and beaches are open, but people must wear masks and stay six feet away from non-household members.

People are allowed to attend a protest or a church service because they’re protected by the First Amendment.

A 10 p.m. curfew remains for everyone but essential workers.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday threatened a “drastic” new lockdown order might be necessary if coronavirus cases continue to surge.

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