California Towns Rebel Against Pandemic Restaurant Restrictions

Frustrated over an order to temporarily ban outdoor dining across Los Angeles County, many elected officials have fought back — with votes to form their own health departments.

LOS ANGELES — Until late last month, outdoor dining — no masks required — was the closest thing to pre-pandemic normal for the 10 million residents of Los Angeles County. But amid a record-busting surge in hospitalizations and cases of the coronavirus, the county’s health department recently said outdoor dining must come to a complete halt for the first time since May.

This time, angry at the order and worried it would be the death knell for many of the 30,000 eateries sprawled across the vast county’s patchwork of 88 independent jurisdictions, several cash-strapped municipalities have pushed back and banded together — with votes to form their own health departments.

“It’s kind of like a mini secession,” said Raphael J. Sonenshein, the executive director of the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at California State University, Los Angeles. “Their complaint is the county has a one-size-fits-all prescription.”

The discussions speak to the growing frustration over a countywide order that many elected officials said was inherently a hyperlocal issue.

Read the rest of the story on The New York Times


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