Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti Monday ordered the suspension of all farmers markets due to concerns about large crowd gathering in spite of coronavirus concerns, and he also temporarily halted rent increases for tenants of rent-controlled units.
Garcetti also signed a City Council-approved ordinance that bars evictions for residential and commercial tenants unable to pay their rent due to the pandemic.
Renters will still have to pay what they owe, but residential tenants will have up to a year to pay it, while commercial tenants will have three months.
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"There's fear that people could be evicted as soon as this is lifted," Garcetti said, adding that he's working with legal experts to figure out some kind of safety net for people who haven't been able to work and earn an income during that time.
Garcetti signed a similar anti-eviction emergency order of his own prior to the council's action, but he said he rescinded his order to avoid confusion.
The mayor also announced a rent freeze for residents of units covered by the city's Rent Stabilization Ordinance -- which Garcetti said represents the bulk of the city's rental stock.
"This is a defining week in our history, a critical week in our future," Garcetti said. "The more we do, the quicker this will end. The less we do, the longer it will take. And we know the longer that it takes, the more people will lose their lives and we know more damage will be done to our economy."
Of the county's total 2,474 coronavirus cases reported today, the city saw 151 new cases in a day and now has recorded a total of 1,171 people who have tested positive for the disease, the mayor said.
The suspension of farmers markets came on the heels of a weekend that saw many people flocking to the markets, despite requirements for social-distancing. Operators of the markets will have to remain closed until they submit plans for controlling crowds and enforcing physical distancing, such as controlled entrances and exits.
"We want people to be able to eat well, we want people to get access to food, but we can't risk the spread of this disease," Garcetti said. "We need to suspend this right away until we can get this under control, and I would ask not only the farmers markets to do their part, but all of us. If there are too many people, simply wait before you go in."
Many of the city's parks and recreation areas are closed, and Silver Lake Meadows had to be closed Monday because over the weekend, like at beaches and other popular parks, too many people kept gathering in the area, Garcetti said.
The mayor also said that city had administered 6,741 coronavirus tests as of Monday, with that number projected to nearly double to 13,000 by Thursday.