Inspectors with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health found 1,000 businesses in violations of coronavirus-related restrictions after visiting 1,600 over the weekend, officials said Monday.
County Health Director Barbara Ferrer said they were not in compliance with some of the county’s new “safer-at-home” directives that are part of the gradual reopening of stores, parks and beaches. That includes having people wear masks and keeping capacity limited to allow 6 feet of distance between people, among other requirements.
“We worked with all of the businesses so that they could implement these measures,” Ferrer said, telling business owners to visit the health department’s website and view the latest health order.
The order, which has no end date, outlines a five-stage plan for reopening. Currently, the county is in Phase 2, which allows retail stores to provide curbside and door-side service while following social distancing measures. Some manufacturing businesses are also allowed to operate again.
Stores from clothing retailers to car dealerships were among the first businesses allowed to operate again, opening their doors for the first time in weeks over Mother’s Day weekend. But health officials said dozens of these businesses were in violation of social distancing rules at the time.
Health inspectors found 162 businesses in violation that weekend after surveying 410. Mayor Eric Garcetti said 27 in the city of Los Angeles received notices of violations during that time.
The county has taken considerable measures to keep businesses from breaching social distancing measures, from Garcetti threatening to shut off their utilities early on in the crisis to the city attorney’s office filing criminal charges against 60 businesses last week.
Dozens of smoke shops, a massage parlor and some hair salons are among the businesses facing misdemeanor charges for allegedly staying open in violation of a health order. A spokesperson for the city attorney’s office, Rob Wilcox, previously told KTLA that charges were filed after the businesses were first given warnings from police and explanations of the order.
He said that the charges could result in a $1,000 fine and six months in jail.
L.A. County has seen a disproportionate share of cases and deaths related to COVID-19 compared to other parts of California, currently making up about half the state’s fatalities and known infections.
On Monday, health officials confirmed 38,451 people have tested positive and 1,839 have died of the virus.