Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s message to nonessential businesses continuing to operate is loud and clear—shut down or the city will do it for you.
Daily at 5:15 p.m., the mayor takes to Facebook Live to update residents on the city’s efforts to slow down the spread of COVID-19 in Southern California, including the statewide lockdown,aLos Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s message to nonessential businesses continuing to operate is loud and clear—shut down or the city will do it for you.
The press conferences are conducted remotely with media dialing in by phone to heed social distancing rules.
Garcetti announced during the March 24 briefing a new “business ambassadors program”—a citywide push to close all nonessential businesses.
“This behavior is irresponsible and selfish,” he said of those remaining open during the stay-at-home order. “It will put all of us at risk for a long time.”
The program consists of neighborhood prosecutors dedicated to implementing safety measures.
The ambassadors will work to contact noncompliant businesses before issuing further action, according to the mayor, such as misdemeanor charges and other citations.
If necessary, the Department of Water and Power will move to cut off all services, Garcetti warned.
“The easiest way to avoid a visit is to follow the rules,” he said.
Adding, “We are ready to deploy these folks, identify businesses that are not doing what they’re supposed to, issue initial warnings and share information on recurring noncompliant establishments with LAPD for further enforcement that may result in a referral to the city attorney’s office or citation actions.”
Garcetti emphasized the importance of staying home and practicing good hygiene, claiming LA is six to 12 days behind New York in being hit with a wave of positive cases.
As of March 24, LA County had 669 confirmed coronavirus cases and 11 deaths—including one teenager.
“I know that everybody is hopeful of us being back in churches by Easter, or synagogues by Passover or restarting the economy in a couple of weeks,” Garcetti expressed. “I think we owe it to everybody to be straightforward and honest that we will not be back to that normal in Los Angeles in that short period of time.”
“I’ve said to be prepared for a couple of months like this,” he continued. “But we won’t extend it one day longer than we need to.
Since the Sunday launch of the city’s online testing portal, 2,800 tests had been completed, said Garcetti, with the expectation of doubling that number in the coming three days.
The new portal offers information on testing locations and symptoms that might require testing.
Testing is limited to Los Angeles residents who are in the most high-risk categories and most vulnerable. They are: those with symptoms who are 65 and older
Those with symptoms who have underlying chronic health conditions
Those who are subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine period due to a confirmed COVID-19 exposure (with more than seven days of quarantine remaining)
Garcetti assured that the testing locations will soon be available for other parts of the state as well, such as Antelope Valley, Pasadena and Long Beach.
“Every test is crucial, and I wish we could be doing so many more,” he said. “I’m so proud of the people who have stood up the centers, the folks that are out there making sure that these tests get processed within 24 hours, and the measure of relief it is giving to those who come up negative and the assistance it is giving to those who are positive and the health care that they need.”
But more testing means more medical workers who can test, treat, heal and tend to coronavirus patients, the mayor noted.
He also declared that, together with L.A. County, the city has opened another portal for medical personnel recruitment, with paid and pro-bono positions.
“There are few Angelinos in more demand right now than medical staff,” he stated. “Many doctors’ offices are actually closed that do elective procedures; those folks might be listening right now at home wondering ‘How can I help?’ this is your shot.”
During his March 23 conference, Garcetti assured renters that their apartment units would not be pulled off the markets during this time.
He also announced that the city of Los Angeles is working to raise $25 million to assist the vulnerable and those in need, also ensuring that senior citizens will have meals. He went on to ask Angelenos to extend a helping hand and donate to the emergency crisis response fund.
Garcetti shared that he is committed to making sure no renters lose homes during this crisis to landlords converting rental properties into condominiums. On March 23, he enacted an emergency order prohibiting the removal of any residential rental units from the rental market under the Ellis Act.
“This action closes a gap in the eviction moratorium that we had put forward earlier and clarifies that this special act of evictions is also prohibited,” Garcetti said.
He said it will prevent people from losing their homes at the same time the city is encouraging people to stay at home.
“Thank you to the people of this great city who are staying at home. Thank you for listening last night,” Garcetti said in reference to a press conference March 22 where he stressed the importance of social distancing. “I will continue to reinforce with folks that you can be a lifesaver, but your actions can also take a life.”
Garcetti also thanked first responders and those who continue to work at such critical businesses as supermarkets, so people can get the things they need.
“We know that there is no protective forcefield around us,” Garcetti said. “Coronavirus simply cannot be wished away, we have to work it away, each one of us, by staying home and those critical workers doing what we need. It will go away because of our actions, but it will also go away because of our hearts.”