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L.A. County Moves to Fine Businesses That Don’t Follow Health Orders

July 8, 2020 by Juliet Bennett Rylah
Sign to wear a mask
Sign to wear a mask / Photo by: Christina Champlin

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to develop a plan to fine L.A. County businesses that fail to comply with current health orders. In some cases, repeat offenders could even lose their license.

Even if a business is allowed to reopen, officials have made it clear that it shouldn’t do so until it can follow the health order, thus protecting customers and employees as much as possible. The motion, submitted by Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Janice Hahn, notes that even as COVID-19 cases surge, several businesses are still non-compliant.

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Over the weekend of June 27 and 28, inspectors said that 49% of bars and 33% of restaurants weren’t following physical distancing protocols. When it came to face masks and shields, 54% of bars and 44% of restaurants weren’t in compliance. Sixty-five percent of retail stores and 83% of restaurants hadn’t posted Public Health’s protocols. The latter won’t necessarily make a difference when it comes to you or an employee getting sick, but it is part of the local law. 

Right now, an Environmental Health Inspector might visit a non-compliant business three to five times before shutting it down. “At no point in the process is a fine currently issued in connection with a violation order or at any other time, even though DPH has code enforcement authority to issue fines for non-compliance,” the motion reads.

This process can take up to several weeks.

“We have neither the time nor the government resources to continue to spend weeks counseling businesses that should be prepared to adhere to public health rules before ever reopening,” the motion states.

This motion directs the Director of Public Health to work with County Counsel on a plan to incorporate fines into its Environmental Health Inspector enforcement. 

Fines will be based on a variety of factors, including the business’s maximum occupancy and the level of non-compliance. A business would incur a fine on its first violation, while a second violation could result in the business losing its license.

Public Health is instructed to report back to the Board in 14 days.

Meanwhile, Santa Monica and West Hollywood are both issuing fines for individuals who fail to wear face masks in public.

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