Earlier this week, Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti banned outdoor service at restaurants in response to the COVID-19 transmission spike. That includes Pineapple Hill Grill and Saloon in Sherman Oaks, whose owner Angela Marsden sunk $80,000 into social-distanced outdoor dining infrastructure and had planned to reopen today. Marsden went to the store yesterday to collect a few items for a planned protest, but got a big surprise when she arrived at the parking lot adjacent to her dining patio.
This went viral last night, and for good reason:
Angela Marsden, the owner of Pineapple Hill Saloon and Grill, posted a video on social media after she saw production tents and tables set up in a parking lot just a few feet from the outdoor dining area she’s not allowed to use.
People involved in the television production were seen dining under the tents.
“Everything I own is being taken away from me and they set up a movie company right next to my outdoor patio,” Marsden says in the video.
“They have not given us money and they have shut us down. We cannot survive. My staff cannot survive,” she also says. …
“The day they come to get their last paycheck, you punch me in the face and say that this is dangerous. Right here is dangerous. But just walk over there and eat,” Marsden told Eyewitness News.
CBS LA attempted to explain the nuances of the case:
Under the county’s guidelines, video and music production is deemed essential. Many production crews also test employees frequently, while under the recent Los Angeles County health order, restaurants like Marsden’s were forced to shut down their outdoor dining.
Only in Los Angeles could video and music production be deemed essential. Essential to what, exactly? Do they keep people physically alive and healthy? Aren’t there decades of previously recorded material available for people, even if one could make such an absurd argument? The only way these productions are essential is in the way that the industry’s clout makes it impossible for local or state politicians to cross them. Want to hold office in Los Angeles? Better treat Hollywood as an “essential business,” pal.
Even at that, though, the “essential-ism” of the movie production is a non-sequitur. The production company is performing the exact same activity that Marsden does with her business — serving people food in those tents. Some Hollywood apologists are claiming, well they test their personnel every day, the food is plastic wrapped, and so on. That misses the point entirely. The supposed risk is in the proximity of dining, not in the food. How is the risk different between the two different patios? If anything, the sheer size of the production canteen is a higher theoretical risk, especially since it appears that the pathways in and out will create higher density than with Marsden’s set-up.
Plus, even if those statements are correct, that assumes that the order from Los Angeles involves some standard Marsden hasn’t met. It doesn’t; LA is shutting down outdoor dining, period. Garcetti isn’t even allowing Marsden or other restaurant owners the opportunity to meet an objective set of standards applied to everyone. Instead, Garcetti is forcing her to close her business in providing outdoor dining without any opportunity to demonstrate safety. And while Garcetti shuts down Marsden, he’s rubbing her nose in his hypocrisy by allowing Hollywood to do what he’s prohibiting Marsden from doing.
This demonstrates the utter corruption of Los Angeles leadership in this crisis. There is no rational or scientific difference at all between those two patios in COVID-19 transmission risk. If one is open, then the other should be open as well. If outdoor dining is verboten for Marsden, then outdoor dining should be verboten for Hollywood too, and its “essential” business sidelined just as Marsden’s is. Garcetti’s allowing one over the other and calling video and music production “essential” because his lips are firmly planted on Hollywood’s posterior.
Say, where are the Hollywood celebrities in this fight, anyway? They’re always concerned about the ordinary folk and preaching about solidarity and being “all in this together.” This would be a good time to put their mouths where their money is.