Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who represents the county’s west side including Malibu, is facing criticism of hypocrisy this week. Just hours after she voted to ban outdoor dining at Los Angeles County’s 31,000 restaurants to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, Kuehl was seen dining outdoors in Santa Monica. The supervisor was spotted Tuesday evening at Il Forno Trattoria on the last night before the ban went into effect.
The LA County Health Department ordered restaurants closed for in-person and patio dining due to a surge in coronavirus cases in the county and nationwide. In the three-to-two vote by the supervisors, Kuehl was quoted as saying, “Outdoor dining is probably more dangerous in terms of contagion than any other kind of business.”
A spokesperson for Kuehl said she followed all the county health guidelines and ate al fresco on the last night it was permitted.
“Like so many people in Los Angeles, she has a favorite place to eat and is saddened that so many restaurants are suffering from lost business,” the spokesperson said. “Since the restaurant patio ban went into effect, she is doing everything she can to continue to support the restaurant, ordering takeout nightly. She hopes other county residents will take similar steps to support their favorite restaurants while getting through this challenging period.”
Restaurateurs have called Kuehl’s action hypocritical. Well-known restaurant owner Josiah Citrin recently said, “Wait a minute, restaurants are so dangerous, but you’re going to go eat in one? It blows me away.” Michael Voltaggio was quoted as saying, “It sends a message we’re getting direction from people that aren’t believing in the messages they’re sending. It’s proof of the lack of leadership and education to what’s happening now.”
Public health officials said the virus was circulating at record levels before the ban went into effect.