As we know, many businesses have had to shutter due to the pandemic. In LA, the ‘Safer at Home’ order from Mayor Garcetti was thus violated. The ones most negatively impacted are the smaller stores. In an effort to prevent them from being completely destroyed, some of these companies – in the ‘non-essential’ category – have thus started ‘operating underground’ as it were in an effort to survive.
This has been dealt with by the law. LA City attorney Mike Feuer has charged many businesses with violation of the law. In response to why they broke the law, one company explained that their choice was either to risk “the fine or we can’t pay our mortgage.”
Of course these companies are trying to run their businesses with discretion. One of them confessed to meeting clients in a back alley while having a sign on their door saying ‘closed due to coronavirus.’ Another store owner said they have appointments only and when meeting with clients the shades are down and the lights are off.
However, there is more than just facing a fine. There is also the prospect of having utilities shut off for those not complying with the Safer at Home decree.
While small businesses have received some help from the government (the PPP from the Treasury Department for example) a lot of businesses claim this is too little too late. According to one local vendor:
“That amount of money came in and covered the costs of one month. With the PPP loan, you had eight weeks that you had to use those funds for payroll and utilities… It looked like I gave myself a big raise, but it just kept me afloat for those months that I was behind.”
A Yelp economic impact report has found 97,966 businesses have closed due to the pandemic.