After voting for dining ban, LA County supervisor dines out at local restaurant

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (KABC) -- On the same day she warned about the dangers of eating at restaurants and voted to support the shutdown of in-person dining in Los Angeles County, Supervisor Sheila Kuehl dined at a restaurant in Santa Monica.

The county health department earlier this month ordered restaurants to once again close for in-person dining, including outdoors, amid a surge in coronavirus cases. The Board of Supervisors later confirmed that decision in a 3-2 vote, rejecting an effort by two members to overrule the county's health officer.

Kuehl was among the three that upheld the dining ban, saying at the time: "Outdoor dining is probably more dangerous in terms of contagion than any other kind of business."

She said diners at restaurants "sit for hours with no masks on'' and are in close proximity to servers and patrons walking by.

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Los Angeles County is restricting dining at restaurants, breweries, wineries and bars for at least three weeks starting Wednesday amid a surge in coronavirus cases.

But Kuehl then went to dine in-person at her favorite restaurant, Il Forno in Santa Monica.

A spokeperson for Kuehl noted that dining was still allowed at the time and said the supervisor was trying to support her favorite restaurant before it had to close.

"Supervisor Kuehl has eaten at Il Forno virtually every night for many years, and on the last night that it was permitted by county health orders, she dined there alfresco taking appropriate precautions as recommended by the Department of Public Health," Kuehl's office said.

"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. 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 we get through this challenging period. "

Los Angeles County, like much of the country, has been seeing coronavirus cases surge to record levels. The county reported 5,150 cases on Monday alone, with 17 additional deaths. The county is also seeing a new strain on the health system with 2,185 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 and projections that hospitals could run out of space, particularly in the ICUs.

The restaurant in-dining ban was one of several steps taken in an effort to slow the spread.

On Monday, a new safer-at-home order took effect which sought to ban people from gathering at all with others from outside their own household and put new limits on occupancy at businesses. It also closed playgrounds and cardrooms.

City News Service contributed to this report.
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