Long Beach restaurant owners are frustrated with city's outdoor dining ban

A group of downtown Long Beach restaurant owners are frustrated with the city's decision to align with Los Angeles County's outdoor dining ban amid an increase in coronavirus cases.
LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- Restaurants in Long Beach were given a lifeline earlier this year when the city announced its Open Streets initiative, allowing restaurants to build parklets in public spaces for outdoor dining amid the coronavirus pandemic.

SEE MORE: Long Beach will close neighborhood streets to allow outdoor dining at local restaurants

Now as coronavirus cases continue to rise, Long Beach officials decided to align with Los Angeles County in late November, banning in-person dining until at least Dec. 16.

"We were given this opportunity to do the Open Streets, to get our parklets, to give our businesses a fighting chance," said owner of District Wine Angela Mesna. "We weren't given the opportunity to really make it work."

The small business owners pointed out that in-person dining is still on the table in Orange County, which is only about six miles away from downtown Long Beach.

SEE MORE: Orange County restaurants could get a boost from LA County's dining ban

"We have Seal Beach which is only 10 minutes away and they're open," said owner of Modica's Deli Orsa Modica. "So how do you how do you curve COVID when you have people dining in outdoor space and then coming right back to Long Beach?"

Long Beach, like Pasadena, has its own public health department and can set its own rules.

SEE MORE: Pasadena tightens COVID-19 restrictions on businesses, activities

"We want to see the leadership of Long Beach take a look at other cities that are doing innovative things, like Pasadena," said Alfresco on Linden Restaurant Group chairman Joe Harding.

Pasadena currently allows outdoor dining at restaurants, but patrons may only be seated with others from within their own household.

Long Beach Public Health and Human Services Director Kelly Colopy said in an email to ABC7:

"The City of Long Beach is aware that closing restaurants for in-person dining has been frustrating for restaurants and patrons, and we understand that this decision has been very difficult for restaurant employees and small business owners. But given the City's alarming rise in cases, as well as Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidance regarding heightened risk for community exposures, we took this course of action in an effort to save lives."

"I think really what it comes down to is that the city needs to help us survive, and they're not doing that," said owner of The 4th Horseman Jeremy Schott. "They're just telling us, 'You're shutting down and good luck.'"

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