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Why are restaurants the first targets when there is a COVID-19 surge?

The failure here is due to our government agencies failing to make it a requirement to wear masks in public. I am challenged for time and resources to research how to gather cash through a go-fund-me page to take full page ads in the daily newspapers in Sacramento, LA, SF, OC, and San Diego calling for our Governor and local politicians to require citizens to wear masks in public. Please hand out citations, just like parking tickets, speeding tickets, etc. We’ve all received citations and we’ve all changed our behavior. 

Stop dumping the blame for the spread of this pandemic on restaurants and restaurant employees. Correct the behavior of people in public. The environment inside restaurants is in accordance with health department guidelines. You want to update the science-based guidelines? We will comply. If you discover non-compliance, then cite!

You are punishing an entire industry, most of whom are in compliance. As fewer restaurants survive, your answer is to squeeze the life out of the rest of them. Scaling back hours of operation and limiting occupancy moves us from barely surviving to losing. Thousands of jobs will be lost. Hundreds of businesses will close.

Again, the 10 p.m. curfew seems arbitrary to me. We have sporting events that would make it difficult to get everyone out by 10 p.m. We have a lot of business from servers and bartenders who come in when their restaurants close, usually arriving about 10:30 or 11 p.m. Long Beach may allow 11 p.m.
 
If the argument is people drink more with longer hours and talk louder, spread more, etc., then let's deal with the action of the people not complying, not take away the opportunity to come in at later hours and eat and drink. People can be warned by unarmed, sworn uniformed officers, live parking meter officers, maybe with the restaurant staff assistance, that their behavior is in violation of health codes and they will have to leave restaurants for the evening. Maybe restaurant operators could handle it. They could advise their guest that an officer has identified them for a citation, would they cooperate and leave?
 
There should be sworn officers like the parking meter officers who can cite people without masks in public (some training and discretion will be required). Maybe a photo or other evidence may be required, or maybe it's not necessary if it is witnessed by the officer, but anyway ask for an ID and then print up a citation. Like a parking ticket for $50 or some amount. It will have an effect. 

Cutting occupancy in half (outside!) is ridiculous on the face of it. It's not an order to increase the distance from 6 feet to 12 feet of separation — just cut the number of your customers in half. You think it makes it sound like you are taking decisive action to beat the virus. No. No it does not. 

Same with an early curfew. This is the viewpoint of people who have 9 a.m.-5 p.m. jobs. They apparently think anybody who works another set of hours shouldn’t be allowed the same relaxing visits to restaurants that 9-5ers have; that it is not normal and that can’t be healthy.

There are a lot of people working when you are not. Some of them just prepared your food and waited on you during your relaxing evening out after your 9-5 job. Many more are working at the port and the airport, etc., getting off work at midnight, in hundreds of jobs. Not everybody is in bed by 10 p.m. Restaurants are important to these citizens and they are important to restaurants.

Please stop these arbitrary experiments with restaurant operations. You set the requirements for a healthy environment. Let us figure out how to operate and survive within the guidelines. Don’t just add arbitrary conditions on restaurants. You should tackle the problem — make people wear masks in public (thank you Dr. Fauci, and 10,000 other doctors).

Ron Hodges is the owner/operator of Shannon’s Corner downtown.

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