Los Angeles County beaches aren’t the only joyful spots closed heading into the 4th of July weekend. On July 1, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered the immediate closure of indoor operations at restaurants as well as other places, including indoor museums, card rooms, and indoor operations at zoos and aquariums in 19 counties, including Los Angeles.
While L.A. County beaches will reopen on July 6 at 5 a.m., Newsom said the indoor closures would continue for at least the next three weeks, devastating news for many Beverly Hills businesses.
“This will be the nail in the coffin for more businesses than we’d like to think,” Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce CEO Todd Johnson told the Courier. “I had a lot of restaurants who called and said they may close. I think a lot of restaurants were on the edge, and this could be what puts them over the edge.”
While patio dine-in, delivery and curbside pick-up is still permitted with County Health guidelines and safety protocols in place, just over 70 establishments in Beverly Hills offer outdoor seating and dining according to Marketing and Economic Sustainability Manager Laura Biery.
“It was obviously a very sudden announcement,” Biery told the Courier, underscoring how restaurants had been reopened for just a month for indoor dining before Gov. Newsom ordered their closure again this week. “It’s obviously very, very challenging.”
Héritage Fine Wines over Jordane Andrieu, who opened his French bistro and wine bar at the corner of Little Santa Monica and Canon six years ago, told the Courier he was considering closing again as a result of the latest mandate. Andrieu had initially closed Héritage in March and only recently reopened following the county’s directive that inside dining could resume on May 29. However, with just five tables outside, he didn’t believe it would be sufficient to justify remaining open.
“Everyone is very frustrated and overwhelmed,” he told the Courier, underscoring how challenging it was for his staff to work in these conditions of uncertainty. “It’s frustrating for everyone to see how the decisions are taken with immediate action.”
As a small business owner, Andrieu expressed sympathy with his fellow restaurateurs with much bigger operations who had been exponentially impacted by the immediate shutdown order.
In an effort to help restaurants adapt to operating during the COVID-19 pandemic, the City recently launched the OpenBH program (www.BeverlyHills.org/OpenBH), which helps retailers and businesses access additional outdoor space. According to Biery, the City has issued nine OpenBH permits and received applications for an additional eight locations.
Johnson said that many restaurants had invested hundreds of thousands of dollars to transform their facilities to a level that’s acceptable and safe for customers and staff.
“We were expecting another round, but we really thought it was going to be in the fall or the winter,” he said.
While there is no way to yet know just how long Gov. Newsom will extend this renewed closure, Johnson predicted that it would depend on the number of COVID-19 cases in the coming weeks. In two weeks, the County will likely see the impacts of just how people choose to behave during the Fourth of July weekend.
And while the renewed closures will assuredly negatively impact Beverly Hills businesses and City revenue, at the moment, there is nothing the City can do to get around the rules, even with all the precautions in place.
“It’s obviously a big setback, but peoples’ safety is the number one priority,” Beverly Hills Conference & Visitors Bureau CEO Julie Wagner told the Courier. “We have to do what we have to do. It’s unfortunate for the restaurants because we have a huge amount of restaurants and people were really ramped up.”