David Pisarra

We’re in the soup now. This latest round of ‘Stay at Home’ orders is now in effect and that means that we are supposed to avoid social interaction as much as possible. The medical community is in a major crisis as the hospitals fill and the ICUs reach full capacity. As news reports of the lack of beds crowd the airways, the question becomes, “Why not just convert the Convention Center?” which is a good question, but not the root problem.

We can put beds anywhere, that’s an easy fix, convention centers, parking lots, mercy ships – the problem is staffing those beds. There are not enough doctors, nurses, and support personnel to treat and tend to the patients in those beds.

This is why we are under a “stay at home” order. Because as the virus snakes its way through our community, reaching more and more of us, those who are facing life-threatening impact will overwhelm the hospitals and ICUs.

The issue is not that too many of us will get the virus, but too many of us will be faced with the need for intensive medical care. For the vast majority of us, the virus induces an illness that will not be devastating – except for the few of us that it will be.

Shutting down our businesses, trying to keep people at home, in safe environments so that the infection rate can be leveled off and the hospitals can catch up are the price we are being asked to pay. It’s a high price to pay for all of us.

For me, the price is being paid in my social life plummeting, my gym life devastated and my waistline growing. Business as a divorce lawyer has picked up as couples reach their breaking point being cooped up and losing their sources of income. It’s a deeply distressing time for all of us, for the children who are having a difficult time in online schooling, for the parents who are wondering how they’ll put food on the table and for businesses that are trying to adapt to an ever changing environment.

The business owners who have made huge investments in retooling to adapt to this new reality are being poorly served by our government. This weekend a viral video made the airwaves of restaurant owner Angela Marsden of Pineapple Hill Saloon in Sherman Oaks. In the video she compares her new outdoor dining set up, which cost her several thousand dollars, to the set up of a film crew, which looks almost identical. Her frustration pours from the video in her pained voice. The county claims the difference is that the film crew are regularly tested for COVID and the public isn’t.

Maybe that’s a good enough reason, maybe not. There is a hearing today in Los Angeles Superior Court where the County has to provide evidence of the impact that outdoor dining has on infection rates. If the judge determines that there is not enough evidence, conceivably the court could issue an injunction preventing the closure of outdoor dining.

For my business coaching client Nasir Nasr, the owner of Z Garden Mediterranean, being allowed to have outdoor dining again would be a welcome reprieve. He invested thousands in remodeling his outdoor patio and in building a new, additional seating area and this latest shutdown is very frustrating. “We do a lot of delivery of our homemade specialties like our Kafta Kabob and Grape Leaves because our customers want to experience being in a foreign land, even if they can’t travel. Having a combo plate of our Lemon Chicken or our slow roasted Lamb Shank is an escape for them from the day to day monotony of being cooped up in their homes and stuck on endless Zoom meetings.” In order to help people break the boredom, and to keep his employees busy, Nasr has focused on his delivery service to improve the quality of what the customer receives.

These are difficult times for all of us and we have to find ways to band together, since the government is not moving quickly to address the devastation that is happening in our small businesses.

I want to encourage all of us to order from our local restaurants in an effort to keep them going for the next three (realistically probably six) weeks, unless the court overturns this outdoor dining ban. Fritto Misto, Campos, Spumoni, Z Garden, Dagwoods and all your favorites need your support now more than ever. Let’s take one for the team and order in dinner tonight, or lunch tomorrow…

David Pisarra is a Los Angeles Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer specializing in Father’s and Men’s Rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist.  He welcomes your questions and comments.  He can be reached at dpisarra@pisarra.com or 310/664-9969. You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra