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Retail Businesses Allowed to Re-Open; City Council Voices Support for Restaurants

May 26, 2020 08:53AM ● By Jeanne Fratello
In spite of the Memorial Day holiday on Monday, it was a busy day for city, county, and state officials working on coronavirus policy.

First, L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn announced that she had just heard from California Governor Gavin Newsom, and that all retail stores statewide would now be able to reopen for in-store shopping under the same rules that so-called "big-box stores" have been able to operate under throughout the crisis, with all applicable health precautions.

"Thank you, Governor," wrote L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn on her Facebook page. "As we continue to battle this virus, this policy will make all the difference to the small businesses in our communities that are struggling to survive this crisis."

Back in Manhattan Beach, the City Council, having convened an unprecedented and last-minute holiday meeting, voted 5-0 to approve two letters; one in support of retail businesses re-opening, and one in support of restaurants re-opening.

City Council Letters Show Support For Retail, Restaurants

The letters approved by the Manhattan Beach City Council expressed support for two different aspects of re-opening efforts.

The first letter supported a motion by L.A. County Supervisors Katherine Berger and Janice Hahn to allow cities within L.A. County to pursue variances from public health orders for businesses that meet state and county health protocols for re-opening. 

"The city of Manhattan Beach has a strong interest in a city variance and looks forward to submitting a request to the county so our local government can begin to reopen," wrote Manhattan Beach Richard Montgomery in the letter. 

L.A. County officials are expected to take action on the motion today. The Manhattan Beach City Council had convened on Monday in part to be able to show its support for the motion in advance of it going before L.A. County officials.

The second letter expressed support a request by the city of El Segundo to allow all South Bay restaurants to re-open under the second part of Phase 2 guidelines. (Note that the letter called the guidelines "Phase 3," which was later corrected to "Phase 2, Stage 2.")

"If Manhattan Beach and other South Bay cities can demonstrate an ability to protect the public and essential workers, we should be allowed to forge ahead into the less restrictive aspects of [the next phase], wrote Montgomery in the letter. 

The letter continued: "Manhattan Beach has provided clear guidance and necessary resources to ensure the safety of critical infrastructure workers that work within the city. In fact, the city is preparing an analysis to allow restaurants to utilize outdoor space in creative ways to ensure the safety of our community during the pandemic. Simultaneously, there is an ample amount of supplies, including disinfectant, hand sanitizer, and essential protective gear. All public safety organizations are fully staffed and ready to respond to any incident that may occur, including any report of pandemic surge."

Michael Zislis, local restaurateur and Shade Hotel owner, told the council that his Manhattan Beach restaurants were ready for the next step. "We’ve been spending the last two months researching all the regulations; we know how to open safely; we’ve retooled our restaurants," he said.

His restaurants will have non-touch temperature sensors at the front door, and he has even hired a COVID manager for all of his restaurants, Zislis added. "We’ve done everything we can to be safe."

Former City Council member and co-owner of Bella Beach Tony D'Errico lent his support on behalf of restaurants. "Local retailers have already demonstrated that they are ready and prepared," he said. "We simply would not open if we’re not going to adhere to the safety guidelines, and that goes times ten for our restaurant owners. Their restaurants are already under some very tight guidelines, and they intrinsically know how to do this."

The Manhattan Beach City Council last week had expressed support for lifting the "curbside only" restrictions on its retail stores, paving the way for many local stores to go ahead and open up for Memorial Day weekend shopping.

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