Local Businesses Face Further Uncertainty Moving Forward

Conflicting rules have made it difficult for businesses to operate


Photo by Nick Webb/Flickr

According to a Los Angeles Daily news report, Los Angeles lost 400,000 jobs and 7,500 small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. While businesses try to stay afloat in this difficult market and keep customers, LA County’s ever-changing mask rules have added to the stress it puts owners under.

On March 4, almost two years after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, Los Angeles County once again returned to a “mask-free” place when it changed its COVID-19 mask policy. Residents are now allowed to leave the masks at home in most public settings, regardless of vaccination status.

The county’s decision to lighten the rules on its masks policy came after the CDC saw that community coronavirus cases had dropped to a low enough level. However, the county has left it up to the discrepancy of business owners on whether or not their customers will have to mask up.

Los Angeles County’s gray area puts owners in a difficult spot. In the past week, since the mandate has been lifted, many businesses still require their customers to wear masks. The inconsistency, along with the numerous rulings and mandates by the county, has taken its toll on business owners.

Allan Simmons, a local businessman who owns a chain of sandwich shops throughout San Gabriel Valley, has found it difficult these past two years.

“My first priority is to keep my workers and customers safe,” Simmons said.

But he found this priority increasingly hard to maintain with vague rulings and mandates constantly changing. At first sight, the rules seem simple enough. First, the business owner receives the email from the health department stating these are the new rules. Then, the owner passes the message to his entire crew.

However, this task can be far more complicated than it seemed. Simmons said it was difficult to keep communication and have everyone on the same page, especially with a revolving door of employees, employees out with COVID, and new managers. Then if Simmon’s does not comply or if he fails to inform his employees of mask mandates he risks getting fines.

Having to deal with customers, employees and varying rulings by the county has put this local business owner in a stressful spot. Only time will tell if the county’s newest mandate will hold up or be revised.

The precise rules on LA County’s most recent mandate can be found here.