Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Tuesday warned Angelenos that they should be hunkering down “for the long-haul,” and he issued some stern words to non-essential businesses that have yet to close.
Garcetti said he has heard reports that non-essential businesses are still operating, but that they should expect visits from a team of enforcers sent to shut them down if they do not comply with public health and emergency orders to require their closure.
“You know who you are,” Garcetti said, during a daily briefing. “You need to stop it. This is your chance to step up and shut it down. If you don’t, we will shut it down.”
While the first visit from city law enforcement officials would involve issuing a warning, repeat offenders could be met with misdemeanor charges and their Department of Water and Power utilities could be shut off, he said.
(He added that residential utilities will get a reprieve from shut-offs during the local emergency, as was announced in his briefing the previous night.)
City Attorney Mike Feuer’s team of neighborhood prosecutors have been redirected toward enforcing public health orders, Garcetti said.
The harsh tone came as United State President Donald Trump gave a rosy outlook — that was quickly contradicted by his own top health official — saying that he planned restore life and the economy back to its usual rhythms by Easter, which is in less than a month on April 12.
But Garcetti countered Tuesday that “we are in this for the long haul,” and that he believes Los Angeles should prepared to continue fighting off the spread of the coronavirus for another two months.
“We can’t wish coronavirus away,” he said. “I know that everybody is hopeful, and some are putting out that hope of us being back at churches by Easter and synagogues by Passover, of restarting the economy in a couple of weeks.”
Garcetti also made the prediction that Los Angeles could be six to 12 days behind “what we are seeing in New York City, where more than one American is dying each hour.”
Garcetti’s tone has grown more grave in recent days, and on Tuesday his briefing followed news that teen had apparently died from the coronavirus. He said that Angelenos should prepare for darker days ahead if they are to beat the virus.
“All of us want things to go back to the normal, all of us but the premature announcements that we can see that light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. “I would say we are just entering that tunnel right now.”
But he cast each restriction announced as a way toward healing. He reiterated warnings about not going outside unless necessary, and asked that people maintain safe distances from each other if they do leave the house to get exercise.
And he announced that another popular spot for workouts and recreation — the Santa Monica staircase, a popular spot for workouts, along Entrada Drive — has now also been closed.
“I know each of these fees like a cut,” he said. “But it is quite opposite, it is a cure.”
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