LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles County restaurants were cleared Friday to reopen for limited dine-in service, as were barbershops and hair salons, as the state approved the county’s request to move deeper into California’s roadmap for restarting the economy.
Los Angeles — home to roughly half of the state’s coronavirus cases and deaths — had been one of only about a dozen California counties not to have received a “variance” from the state allowing more types of businesses to reopen. The variances are granted based on a list of criteria, including infection rates, hospital capacity, testing availability and ability to trace contacts of infected residents.
The county submitted a request for a variance earlier this week, and it was granted Friday morning.
“This further brings our communities together and resumes a sense of normalcy, representing monumental progress for Los Angeles County on the path toward recovery,” Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Kathryn Barger said.
County health officials released reopening protocols Friday afternoon, and businesses will be free to open as soon as they can meet them, potentially as early as Friday night.
For restaurants, the guidelines include a restriction to 60% of capacity. Customers and employees will be screened for symptoms such as cough or fever, physical distancing measures will be enforced and customers will be required to wear face coverings when not eating. Customers are encouraged to make reservations, and they will be asked to wait for their table either in their cars or outside the restaurant. Bar areas of restaurants will remain closed.
Hair salons will also be required to enforce physical distancing, and employees and customers will also be screened for health symptoms. Customers and employees will be required to face coverings.
Los Angeles County previously revised its Health Officer Order on Tuesday, clearing the way for all retailers in the city, including those inside enclosed shopping malls, to reopen for in-store shopping with restrictions on capacity and mandatory face coverings.
The revised order also allowed the reopening of offices, swap meets, flea markets and drive-in movie theaters. Houses of worship were also cleared to again hold in-person services, with limited capacity and restrictions on activities.
The county health order continues to require residents to wear cloth face coverings when interacting with people outside their own households. It also calls for continued social-distancing. Reopened businesses also must adhere to strict safety protocols, requiring face coverings, limited capacity inside stores and hand-washing and sanitizing stations.
County public health director Barbara Ferrer again stressed the need for business to adhere to all requirements before reopening.
“The only reason we were able to successfully submit a variance was because of all the work everyone has done throughout our county,” Ferrer said. “We do ask businesses to please adhere to the directives that are included in the health officer order and to the protocols prior to reopening. Compliance with the protocols is required. Reopening as safely as possible and in ways that protect both employees and customers will require a lot of effort, and we do appreciate everyone’s commitment to doing this right.”
Barger said that on Tuesday, members of the county’s Economic Resiliency Task Force will give a presentation on “roadmaps to safely reopen some key sectors, including restaurants, sports venues, theme parks, corporate businesses and manufacturing and film and digital media.”
She said the roadmaps will “ensure industries can hit the ground running with proper public health guidelines … as soon as the state gives approval to reopen. The plans provide guidance for immediate reopening and a framework for the return to the new normal.”