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'We Are Not The Cause Of These Spikes': Business Owners Push Back Against Pandemic Blame

BEVERLY HILLS (CBSLA) -- Business owners across the Southland want to make their voices heard, and spread the message that they don't believe they are to blame for the alarming increase in coronavirus cases.

A 4.5-mile Save Small Businesses march was held on Saturday from West Hollywood to Beverly Hills.

"We are not the cause of these spikes!" one event attendee said.

The march was led by the California Coalition for Safe Reopening and several Chambers of Commerce, was held on Saturday to bring attention to their concerns.

"They're making all these rules for us and no one's spoken to us," said restaurant manager Steve Springer. "We're on the frontlines. We are the frontlines of this problem."

Springer, the general manager of Sprago Beverly Hills, said he's laid off nearly 200 people and only has 12 employees left, working to survive off takeout orders.

He joined other business leaders on Saturday in the rally.

In Los Angeles County, a staggering 700,000 hospitality workers have lost their jobs since March, according to the California Coalition for Safe Reopening.

"I just had to do another 30 layoffs this week because of the closures," said Nick Rimedio, the General Manager of Kimpton La Peer Hotel and a co-founder of the Coalition. "It's one of the most saddest things that I can tell you, trying to look into their eyes and say 'Why, what did we do wrong?'"

Since the start of the pandemic, hospitality workers ay they've complied with ever-changing regulations and safety protocols.

Outdoor dining is banned in 11 Southern California counties, severely reducing business and in many cases, some businesses are limited to a small number of customers who can enter their facilities at a time.

"We'll do anything that we can to survive and we just want the chance to do that," Rimedio said.

Business owners said they're concerned about how much longer they'll be able to sustain working under restricted conditions that health experts have put in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The Coalition is hoping to meet with county or state leaders soon to present their concerns.


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