SCGA Public Affairs

Update: COVID-19 Update

Friday, November 27, 2020

Since we reported Los Angeles County’s 3-2 vote to curtail outdoor dining, the blowback has increased. The Los Angeles Times and Southern California News Group’s newspapers have editorialized their opposition. The Los Angeles City Council has voted 11-3 to oppose the decision. The City of Pasadena, which long ago deviated from many of the specifics of LA County’s Golf Health Order, has used the auspices of its separate Health Department to keep its restaurants open for outdoor dining. The Long Beach Restaurant Association has petitioned its city, the only other LA County city with a separate health department to follow suit. And a number of small cities, particularly in the San Gabriel Valley and Antelope Valley, have scheduled agenda items to explore the creation of their own separate health departments to create a path toward deviation from LA County Public Health.

A political consensus that at the dawn of the pandemic preferred to err on the side of abundant caution appears to have shifted to a more balanced and nuanced approach, one predicated much less on simply shutting things down than curtailing activities where there the data show a discernible and significant causal connection between the activity and the spread of the virus. Two of Los Angeles County’s Supervisors (Hahn and Barger) did not believe that County Public Health had produced data showing such connection and thus found the economic and ancillary damage (unregulated private congregating) caused thereby to outweigh the unproven benefits of the curtailment. In a break with their previous actions in lock step with County Public Health’s orders, the Los Angeles Times and Los Angeles City Council concurred.

This is significant for the Los Angeles County golf community, not so much because the limited patio dining it has enjoyed in recent months has been cancelled, but rather because of what it presages as the COVID-19 caseloads hit the numbers County Public Health two weeks ago announced as triggering a 2nd “safer at home” order. That “order” is being developed this Thanksgiving weekend, ostensibly in consultation with the Board of Supervisors, and may well be issued as early as the middle of next week. Indeed, we think you can count on it; the numbers have all but arrived at the pre-announced thresholds.

Even before the divided Board vote, the public outcry, and the negative editorials, County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer indicated that a 2nd iteration of a “safer at home” order would be far less onerous and restrictive than the one back in March. The March order closed all but “essential businesses” and required persons to remain at home except for trips to acquire “necessities,” e.g., food and medicine. For a period of 50 days, even outdoor recreation was prohibited.

This 2nd order they’re working on this long Holiday weekend is reported to keep nonessential businesses such as hair salons and gyms open, albeit in one case at reduced capacity per appointment only and in the other on an exclusively outdoor basis. “Essential” retail would remain open, albeit at 35% instead of 50% capacity. Nonessential retail would remain open, albeit at 20% capacity. Childcare, daycare, day camps and schools would remain, albeit with some additional reporting requirements. Playgrounds are rumored to be closed; however, all other outdoor recreation as regulated under current orders would remain open, and that certainly includes golf as it has been played in LA County since early May.

None of this should be construed as minimizing either the seriousness of the spiking caseload or the golf community’s continuing need to remain hyper vigilant in enforcing the rules of social distancing, masking up, and common touch point control. It is meant only to assuage some of the fears based on misinformation and unfounded rumors. That and communicate what we find to be an increasingly balanced and nuanced approach to the development of the rules and policies calculated to get us through the pandemic until such time as vaccination protocols develop the herd immunity capable of restoring some semblance of normality.

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We will report again once the rules of the anticipated 2nd “safer at home” order are finalized. At that time, we will also report on something of importance that got lost in headlines about COVID-19 and a presidential transition like none other in American history – California’s discovery of an unexpected $26 billion tax receipt bounty, a good thing to be sure, but one with troubling long-term implications for the California golf community.

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