Kevin O’Leary, known as “Mr. Wonderful” on the investment competition show “Shark Tank,” ripped into California Monday for its far-reaching restrictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The well-known investor, who has stakes in food services in Los Angeles, is questioning the efficacy of the latest measures implemented by Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), who has shut down outdoor dining amid a spike in coronavirus cases.
“I have a very simple question,” O’Leary said on CNBC. “How is it possible — when I’ve spent $60-80,000 on the back of the restaurant and on the front of the restaurant to provide the seats and the heaters and complied with the city ordinance and was just about to re-open … I’m shut down?”
“And right across the street is a big-box retailer with food services, vending machines and open service courts providing food inside of a big box, walls around it,” he continued. “So you’re telling me the viral load in the outside of my restaurant is higher than the viral load inside of the big box, which is enclosed? That’s ridiculous.”
He went on to say there’s “no science claim” to back up such an edict, calling the governor’s orders “totally unfair.”
At another point in the interview, he argued the patchwork nature of the restrictions around the country is “chaos” for business owners, operators, and investors.
O’Leary’s comments came just after a restaurant owner in L.A. rebuked Newsom and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, also a Democrat, for the double standard in their rules. In a video published Friday, Pineapple Hill Grill and Saloon owner Angela Marsden revealed that, while the government has mandated she can’t serve patrons — inside or outdoors — there is a sprawling outdoor dining area set up just feet from her restaurant for a TV production crew. The mayor has approved their outdoor eating space because he has deemed entertainment industry workers “essential.”
“I’m losing everything,” said Marsden, referring to the toll the government edicts are taking on her life and livelihood. “Everything I own is being taken away from me and they set up a movie company right next door to my outdoor patio, which is right over here. And people wonder why I’m protesting and why I have had enough.”
She called Garcetti’s dictates “dangerous.”
The mayor claimed to understand Marsden’s situation, but made it clear he has no intention of altering his orders because they’re “necessary.”
“No one likes these restrictions, but I do support them,” he said.