Los Angeles City Atty. Mike Feuer filed criminal charges against 10 businesses — including a massage parlor, smoke shop, car wash and print shop — accusing them of refusing to shut down despite Mayor Eric Garcetti’s order imposed to fight the coronavirus.
“If we must, we will file prosecutions,” Feuer said Tuesday at a media briefing where he announced the second round of charges against the owners of businesses that the city has deemed not essential during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Thus far, the owners of 14 businesses face misdemeanor prosecution for continuing to remain open in violation of the “Safer at Home” order, which was issued March 19 and requires businesses deemed nonessential to close to slow the spread of the virus.
“We have to achieve voluntary compliance,” Feuer said. “We have achieved voluntary compliance in more than 200 cases.”
Feuer said Garcetti made it clear that only essential businesses, such as healthcare providers, organizations serving vulnerable populations and grocery stores, may remain open during the COVID-19 emergency. Remaining open in other circumstances jeopardizes public health and safety, he said.
The Los Angeles Police Department has reported 79 businesses for violating the order to the city attorney for criminal prosecution since the order was put in place, according to the mayor’s office.
“The sooner we achieve maximum compliance from businesses and residents alike, the sooner all Angelenos can get back to work and resume our normal routines,” Feuer said.
Those charged Tuesday include the owners of two San Fernando Valley smoke shops, a Lincoln Boulevard tobacco shop, a vape store, a Sepulveda Boulevard car wash, a Sherman Way massage parlor, a Verdugo Road print shop and a South L.A. beauty supply store, according to Feuer’s office.
Last week, Feuer charged four stores — including two smoke shops, an electronics discount store and shoe store — with violating the closure order.
Feuer said he also rebuffed an effort to challenge a provision in the order that required gun shops to close. A state court denied a gun rights group’s efforts to obtain a temporary restraining order against the mayor’s Safer at Home provision related to gun stores, Feuer said. Last week, a federal judge denied a similar order.
“We’ll continue to do what it takes to defend and enforce the order, which is about saving lives,” he said.