L.A. County businesses could face $500 fine, have permits revoked for COVID-19 safety violations

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Businesses that violate Los Angeles County’s health officer order put in place to curb the spread of coronavirus will be fined up to $500 and face permit suspensions, officials said Wednesday.

County health inspectors are working seven days a week to conduct unannounced visits to ensure infection control measures are in place at businesses, and to respond to complaints.

Starting at the end of August, fines ranging from $100 for the first offense, to $500 and a 30-day suspension for multiple offenses, will be issued to businesses. That includes those licensed and permitted by the department, as well as those that are not.

“We all want our local businesses to be open and more people to get back to making a living, and to thrive,” said Muntu Davis, the county’s public health officer. “We all must operate responsibly. Employees, businesses, business owners and operators are critical partners in slowing the spread of COVID-19.”

Since March, the county’s Department of Public Health has received a total of 17,808 health officer order complaints; the agency has investigated more than 17,000 restaurants, more than 3,500 grocery stores, more than 600 pools and more than 3,000 other businesses.

Over the course of the pandemic, 26 restaurants, one grocery store, one pool and 67 other businesses were shut down for violations. According to Davis, most of the businesses under investigation either came into compliance or were working to come into compliance and that’s why they were not closed.

“We want to be reasonable and work with business owners, but we also know that time is of the essence to slow the spread of this virus and protect the health of workers, customers, and their families,” Davis said.

Los Angeles Apparel, located in South L.A., is one local business that was closed after four employees contracted coronavirus and died. Davis said the company is now in compliance with the health order and reopened Friday.

“After working with out department their employees are trained on physical distance, wearing face coverings and that the facility is following enhanced cleaning regimens,” Davis said.

The company is also screening employees for COVID-19 with mandatory temperature checks, a new safety measure not done previously.

Even with more safety measures in place, some workers said they are still “very scared” but have reported back to work.

“We gotta go back to work because that’s how we pay our bills, our rent, everything,” one worker told KTLA.

More details on the latest health officer order can be found at publichealth.lacounty.gov.

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