Kuehl referred to outdoor dining as "a most dangerous situation" during a meeting of the L.A. County Board of Supervisors on the same day. According to her, tables with unmasked patrons potentially exposing their servers to the coronavirus could trigger "a serious health emergency" that must be taken seriously. Kuehl commented: "The servers are not protected from us, and they're not protected from their other tables that they're serving at that particular time, plus all the hours in which they're working."
She went on to vote for restricting outdoor dining in the county, which passed the Board of Supervisors by a 3-2 margin. The ban subsequently took effect in the evening of Dec. 2, a full day after she ate at the Santa Monica establishment.
A spokesperson for Kuehl gave this statement to FOX 11: "She did dine al fresco at Il Forno on the very last day it was permissible. She loves Il Forno, [and] has been saddened to see it, like so many restaurants, suffer from a decline in revenue. She ate there, taking appropriate precautions, and sadly will not dine there again until our public health orders permit." The supervisor has repeatedly declined the news channel's requests for comment.
Kuehl's decision is likely to draw criticism from parties frustrated with elected officials' hypocritical approach to the COVID-19 health orders they mandate. True enough, some have voiced out their frustration.
County Supervisor Janice Hahn, who opposed the ban on outdoor dining, told FOX 11 host Elex Michaelson during her Special Report appearance: "We who are in public office are held to a very high standard ... [If] we can't garner the trust of the public to be with us in the fight against the virus, then we've lost a big battle." She added that officials were "beginning to lose the trust of the public" nine months into the pandemic.
Local restaurant owner Michael Voltaggio was stunned by Kuehl's decision, telling FOX 11 that the supervisor's actions prove "the continuous hypocrisy and … lack of leadership and education" about what was happening. Restaurant owner Josiah Citrin, who owns multiple restaurants across the county, remarked: "Restaurants are so dangerous, but [Kuehl ate in] a restaurant? It just blows me away."
Meanwhile, protesters gathered outside Kuehl's home on Dec. 1 after news of her visit to Il Forno Trattoria surfaced. A female participant in the protest screamed: "If you make a rule, you should follow it yourself!" Another protester said health officials in the county did not provide enough evidence to justify the outdoor dining ban.
Kuehl was not the first official reported eating out amid coronavirus restrictions in place for dining establishments. Last month, Gov. Gavin Newsom was seen attending a birthday party – and flouting mask and distancing orders he himself mandated. The birthday party for Newsom's lobbyist and long-time friend Jason Kinney was held at Napa Valley’s The French Laundry, and had a number of top Calif. politicians and health officials in attendance. (Related: STUPID-19: Newsom says Californians should wear a mask between bites while dining out.)
Back in September, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who represented Calif. was seen visiting a San Francisco salon amid the city's ban on indoor services. While Pelosi's spokesman Drew Hammill confirmed that the speaker did visit the salon, he insisted "she always wears a mask" and complies with local COVID-19 regulations. However, security footage obtained by Fox News clearly showed Pelosi devoid of any mask or face covering while inside the establishment. Salon owner Erica Kious later told the network that Pelosi's actions showed a double standard and were a "slap in the face."