City Council Claims Waiting Violates The City’s Physical Distancing Guidelines
Posted Oct. 29, 2020
It is now against the rules to stand in line at a bar or restaurant in Hermosa Beach, CA.
At its end-of-October meeting, the City Council approved an emergency enforcement measure that prohibits people from waiting in lines to get into a restaurant or restaurant/bar. The reason: it is in violation of the city’s physical distance guidelines established as part of its COVID-19 protocols.
With limited capacity and outdoor-only seating, it’s common for places to have lines, especially at the popular Pier Plaza establishments such as American Junkie, Hennessey’s, Patrick Molloy’s, Sharkeez, Tower 12 and Waterman’s.
Under the rule, if a seat is not available for a customer, the patron must wait away from other people until a table is ready. Restaurants have to notify customers via text when a spot opens up for the people to be seated.
Restaurants can also implement a reservation system, although that goes against the grain of many local residents, who like to pop into places without much advance thought. This is especially true at night when the Pier, traditionally a hotspot of nightlife in the South Bay, attracts barflies.
The city is already issuing fines of $100 for the first violation, $200 for a second violation and $500 for each subsequent violation within a 12-month period to people not wearing masks in public.
“I was down on Pier Plaza for a brief period of time at somewhere around midnight on Saturday night. I did see folks lining up,” Mayor Pro Tem Justin Massey said, according to the Beach Reporter. “I have observed folks having difficulty managing social distancing when they’re waiting to get into an establishment.
“I do think best practices to have a system in place that prevents folks from congregating until they can actually get into the establishment and be seated in a in a way that’s safe.”
Community Development Director Ken Robertson said this new measure should not be a burden to the restaurants, but that goes counter to what bar owners in other parts of the country have stated.
“Logistically it is impossible for me enforce you wearing a mask down the street while you wait to come inside,” frustrated bar owner Jeff Sirkin of Gallette’s in Tuscaloosa, AL, said, when his place was criticized when not everyone in line was wearing a mask.
He went on to say that bar and restaurant staff are so busy enforcing rules inside their establishments that they cannot keep control of – let alone enforce – what people are doing outside their businesses.
It remains to be seen how this will work in Hermosa.