Masked pedestrians in Los Angeles

Los Angeles County isn’t waiting long to lift restrictions in place to slow the spread of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

During a briefing a few hours after California Governor Gavin Newsom lifted a statewide stay-at-home order put in place several weeks ago due to a record surge in new cases of the coronavirus, allowing things like outdoor dining and salon services to resume on a county-by-county basis, health officials for the county followed suit.

The officials said L.A. County salon services, for hair, skin and nails, will be allowed to immediately reopen at 25 percent indoor capacity. Retail, open throughout most of the pandemic, will continue to operate at the same capacity limit. Meanwhile, restaurants are set to be able to resume outdoor operations on Friday. But food courts and “common areas” inside malls will remain closed. Social distancing and masks will still be required at any of these businesses.

County supervisor Hilda Solis said the region was “align[ing] with the state” in its actions, but admitted “this has always been a tough balance.”

The sudden reversal of restrictions is surely being welcomed by affected business associations, certain of which representing beauty professionals, restaurant owners and retailers, have sued the state over mandates aimed at reducing mixing of the public, a central source of the spread of the virus. Newsom said in his earlier Monday briefing that the state  “will ultimately win these lawsuits” as the restrictions have been based on “science, data and common sense.” None of the associations could be reached immediately for comment on the newly loosened restrictions.

It is possible that The City of Los Angeles will decide to maintain stricter measures on salons and dining, but so far Mayor Eric Garcetti has followed the state and county moves when it comes to pandemic response. His office could not be reached immediately for comment.

Yet, Los Angeles is still a hotspot of the virus, recording close to 10,000 new cases a day and over 5,000 deaths from the virus in just the last three weeks. Area hospitals are still at essentially 100 percent capacity, but county officials said projections have capacity getting lower in the coming weeks.

But Solis noted the effects on businesses in commenting on the changes to restrictions. Even with hundreds of millions of dollars in state and city grant programs available for businesses that apply, she said “The financial pain has been devastating.”

“Small businesses, particularly restaurants, have endured this pain for so long and many won’t recover,” she said.

Even though this will be the third time the state has tightened and loosened restrictions, with the most recent being due to an unprecedented surge in cases, Solis attempted to maintain that the public cannot “let our guard down again.”

 “We’ve seen what it means when that happens, when we visit with others in their homes, attend large gatherings, and run errands like we did pre-pandemic,” she said. “That cannot happen again.”

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