LOS ANGELES - Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Tuesday that the city's neighborhood prosecutors will investigate complaints of "nonessential" businesses that are still operating despite orders to close due to the coronavirus.
The Safer at Home Business Ambassadors Program will deploy neighborhood prosecutors assigned to police stations around the city to help enforce the closure orders.
"Believe me when I say nobody wants to be punitive at a time like this," Garcetti said. "My ideal is 100% self-compliance, and we all hope for the same thing -- we want fewer people to get sick and die. ... We can achieve those goals but only if we all do our part."
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Garcetti said the move is intended to initially remind businesses that they need to close, but noncompliance could result in citations or the city could cut off utilities to the business. He asked people to remind nonessential businesses to close as a preemptive measure.
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Some examples of "essential" businesses defined by the state and local orders are health care facilities, grocery stores and pharmacies. Restaurants can be open for takeout and delivery service only.
Garcetti said most Angelenos have adhered to the city's orders, but his office is still getting reports of people gathering in crowds larger than 10 people, which he called "irresponsible and selfish."
Garcetti said Los Angeles is probably about six to 12 days behind what's happened in New York, so local residents should be prepared for conditions to worsen.
"The peak is not here yet. The peak will be bad," Garcetti said. "The best way to save the economy is to save lives."
Los Angeles was able to test about 2,800 people Tuesday through a new online portal that is intended for people experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus, are 65 years or older or have underlying health issues.
The mayor said the city should be able to double that capacity to 5,600 tests per day by this week.