Frustration over California restaurant closures, favoritism and hypocrisy boiled over Saturday as protesters gathered outside the home of a Los Angeles County supervisor who dined outdoors after voting to ban such activity.
The rally featured Angela Marsden, owner of the Pineapple Hill Saloon and Grill, whose viral video showed a movie production company setting up food tents and tables next to her restaurant’s outdoor-dining set-up, which she was ordered to close under coronavirus restrictions.
The protesters, who included restaurant workers, held signs with messages like “Stop the Hypocrisy” and chanted “Let us work,” as shown on video posted online by Fox 11 Los Angeles.
“We in the restaurant industry are losing everything,” Ms. Marsden said at the rally. “We have bartenders with babies and children, and they can’t pay their rent! They can’t eat! And it’s because of you, Sheila [Kuehl], as laugh and dine and eat out.”
The rally came after California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Thursday another shutdown pegged to hospital ICU capacity that will place two of the state’s five regions — Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley — under stay-at-home orders and business restrictions starting Sunday.
The order prohibits both indoor and outdoor dining at restaurants and bars, as well as the closure of outdoor playgrounds, hair salons, movie theaters, campgrounds, wineries and amusement parks, and limits retailers to 20% capacity.
“We are at a tipping point in our fight against the virus and we need to take decisive action now to prevent California’s hospital system from being overwhelmed in the coming weeks,” Mr. Newsom said in a statement. “By invoking a Stay at Home Order for regions where ICU capacity falls below 15 percent, we can flatten the curve as we’ve done before and reduce stress on our health care system.”
The state’s other three regions — Northern California, the Bay Area and Greater Sacramento — have reported that their ICU capacity still exceeds 20%, according to the California Department of Public Health.
The state Health Department said Saturday that San Joaquin Valley’s ICU capacity has dropped to 8.6%, while the Southern California region has 12.5%.
Ms. Kuehl came under fire for dining outdoors at Il Forno Trattoria in Santa Monica just hours after voting Nov. 24 to uphold a county-wide ban on outdoor dining, which passed 3-2, calling it “probably more dangerous in terms of contagion than any other kind of business.”
Her office said in a statement that she wanted to support the restaurant, a favorite of hers, and that outdoor dining was still allowed that night under county public health rules.
Ms. Marsden became a social media sensation after accusing elected officials of a double-standard for allowing the production company to offer outdoor dining while forcing the closure of her Sherman Oaks restaurant’s outdoor dining area, which she said paid $80,000 to establish.
She blamed Mr. Newsom and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti for what “every person that doesn’t have unemployment, that does not have a job, and for all the businesses that are going under.”
“Obviously Mayor Garcetti has approved this — has approved this being set up for a movie company,” she said. “I’m losing everything. Everything I own is being taken away from me, and they set up a movie company right next to my outdoor patio.”
A GoFundMe page for the Pineapple Hill Saloon had raised more than $87,000, as of Sunday.
Ms. Marsden said: “And people wonder why I’m protesting and why I’ve had enough? They have not given us money and they have shut us down. We cannot survive. My staff cannot survive. Look at this. Tell me that this is dangerous, but right next to me, as a slap in my face, this is safe? Fifty feet away?”
California reported that Friday’s figures show another 25,068 new daily positive cases, bringing the total cases to 1.3 million, and 19,791 deaths after adding an additional 209 fatalities. The state’s population is 39.5 million.