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More Lunacy From Bureaucrats. This Time Selling Groceries Is Illegal.

Rahm Emanuel once famously said, “you never let a serious crisis go to waste.”

There’s a new corollary to that belief: “Bureaucrats will be part of any crisis, seldom making things better.”

Enter Los Angeles and their bureaucracy.

A few Los Angeles restaurants struggling to maintain footing amid the COVID-19 outbreak identified a clever way to generate revenue while still serving the community: Start selling groceries.

The city’s public health department promptly shut them down. The reason? The small businesses don’t have a “grocery permit.”

“It’s not really possible for a restaurant to become a grocery store,” Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of Los Angeles County Public Health, said in a briefing yesterday. “You cannot just decide you want to sell groceries.”

Why anyone can’t do exactly that—exchange goods with those who want to purchase them—remains a mystery. Such licensing laws are typically put in place in the name of public safety, but one wonders how this decision could possibly help protect the public.

The restaurants-turned-grocery stores actually provide a rather obvious public health benefit. They are significantly less crowded than traditional grocery stores, which is convenient when considering that every major health organization has advised individuals to maintain a six-foot distance from surrounding passersby.

The restaurants-turned-grocery stores actually provide a rather obvious public health benefit. They are significantly less crowded than traditional grocery stores, which is convenient when considering that every major health organization has advised individuals to maintain a six-foot distance from surrounding passersby.

“Elderly people in the neighborhood really enjoy coming to Bacari PDR,” Robert Kronfli, the co-owner of one such restaurant-turned-grocery store, tells Reason. Foremost, “it was a super chill shopping environment,” he says, with “only one or two people in there at once.” Contrast that with the major chains, which have been overwhelmed with an onslaught of patrons. “They’re afraid to go to large supermarkets right now because of the lines and because of the social distancing thing.”

In the name of a lack of a “license,” restaurants who deal with produce and know food better than the average grocer are being told to stop selling groceries in a manner that will provide product and keep people safer and less exposed to COVID-19.

Yeah, that makes sense.

With restaurants being closed for food service, selling of groceries allows the restaurant to stay open, provide jobs and most importantly, help keep people safe.

Since restaurants are closed, restaurant inspectors can make sure those establishments that are selling produce are doing so in a safe manner. It’s not like those inspectors have anything to do other than sit on their butts, twiddle their thumbs and dream of ways to make their regulations more onerous.

What right do these unelected officials have to say that people cannot sell good, safe groceries in order to make a living and provide for their families?

These are the same bureaucrats that during the depression would have shut down soup kitchens and demanded that people selling five cent apples on a corner get a vendor license.

We need to be saved not only from COVID-19, but the chowder heads that are making things more difficult for the average person.

When COVID-19 subsides, we really hope that the one thing that is examined is the role of bureaucrats in not only making the virus harder to fight (as in the case of the FDA and the CDC) but in making the lives of the average American harder and more fraught with danger and angst than needed be.

The actions of petty bureaucrats cannot be defended.



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  1. […] We covered the City of Los Angeles barring restaurants from selling groceries earlier. […]

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