LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer said Tuesday that his office had filed criminal complaints against 60 businesses operating in violation of the city's Safer At Home order in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, but some of the owners said there were misunderstandings and miscommunications.
"I was not given a warning," Josh Christoff, owner of The Groom Room, said. "I was just automatically, apparently, charged."
Christoff said he was visited by two officers with the Los Angeles Police Department on April 23. He said the officers informed him that he was open in violation of the city's health order, but he said that his business is classified as a pet food retail shop. The city cited him for the violation and shut the business down.
"I know it's for the good of the public, and good of the public health, but of course frustrating financially," he said.
And though his business has been shut down since he was first cited, his shop appears on a list of 60 businesses facing criminal charges by the city for violating the Safer at Home order.
"All our hard work to slow the spread of COVID-19 could be squandered if businesses violate the rules and open prematurely," Feuer said. "Of course, all of us want to get back to work and return to our routines, and I'm extremely sympathetic with businesses that are struggling so much right now."
About a dozen of the businesses on the list said they had shut down immediately after receiving warnings, leaving owners wondering if they were being given a fair chance.
"When you take criminal proceedings against people who are already in a tough situation, I don't know what to say," Adman Roushdy, general manager of Hamptons 818 in Sherman Oaks, said. "I don't know what the lesson is, because everybody is already going through a tough time."
Roushdy said the restaurant has been closed to dine-in eaters, though he said he was visited by police after offering water to a pair of customers who placed an order for takeout and were waiting for their food to be ready.
The City Attorney's Office did not immediately return a request for comment on how many times the businesses on the list were visited before legal action was taken against them.
Some businesses were allowed to reopen Friday in the city, including florists and bookstores, but other businesses — like hair salons, gyms and massage businesses — were directed to remain closed due to the necessity of close contact within those types of businesses.
The 60 businesses include tobacco stores, gyms, hair salons, beauty supply stores and a car wash. A complete list of the businesses cited by the City Attorney's Office can be found online.
for more features.