The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a motion Tuesday that immediately opens houses of worship and in-person shopping, but stipulates dining and salons would not be allowed to reopen as of yet.
The motion approved Tuesday said L.A. County had met statewide variance criteria and could therefore advance further into Phase 3 of the state’s roadmap to recovery.
“Los Angeles County has dedicated critical resources to meet the benchmark criteria to support our efforts to reopen, including ensuring adequate hospital capacity, increasing access and availability of testing and contact tracing, and implementing protections for vulnerable populations,” said Supervisor Kathryn Barger, whose 5th District includes the Santa Clarita Valley. “Regional data shows we have flattened the curve, indicating our readiness to move forward in phased recovery. This will put Los Angeles County on a level playing field with surrounding counties, which have already been granted variances.”
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors said the county will also align with public health orders issued by the state, which include reopening in-person shopping and houses of worship, but are awaiting the reopening of in-person dining and personal care, such as hair salons and barber shops.
In addition, L.A. County will align with the public health orders issued by the state to ensure consistency as the region progresses in reopening.
“Aligning Los Angeles County’s health orders with the state’s is going to provide immediate relief to our communities,” Barger said. “This important step will give our residents and businesses clarity as we continue to take positive steps toward reopening Los Angeles County.”
Upon hearing about the county’s announcement on applying for variance, the Santa Clarita City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to send Newsom a letter in support of the county’s application.
“The numbers are showing that L.A. County as a whole is right on the cusp of meeting all of the standards set forth by the governor, and tomorrow morning, they will put the variance application into play and submit it to the state,” said Smyth during the council meeting. “And if approved L.A. County will now be aligned with all other counties throughout the state, which will mean salons, barber shops, in-store dining, retail being open for in-person shopping, churches, synagogues, mosques and houses of worship, will also be open.”
“The standards and guidelines still have to be in place, of course,” Smyth added. “But, today was an amazing day. And, this council and our staff deserve credit for the work that we put in on behalf of our residents.”
Examples of activities now permitted under the changes enacted Tuesday:
- Faith-based organizations may resume services, with the number of congregants limited to less than 25% of the building’s capacity, or a maximum of 100 people, whichever is lower.
- All retail, including those located in indoor and outdoor retail shopping centers, may now open for business at 50% capacity.
- Flea markets, swap meets and drive-in movie theaters may resume operations.
- Pools, hot tubs and saunas that are in a multi-unit residence or part of a homeowners association may now open.
- In-person protests are permitted as long as attendance is limited to 25% of the area’s maximum occupancy, or a maximum of 100 attendees, whichever is lower.
Even so, the order still emphasizes that residents should be abiding by public health guidelines, including physical distancing requirements, cloth face coverings and other safety protocols, as the recovery progresses.
Gatherings of those not from the same household are still prohibited, except for faith-based services and in-person protests, and county residents are still encouraged to remain in their residences as much as practical and limit close contact with others outside their household both indoors and outdoors.
Those who are 65 or older, as well as anyone with underlying health conditions, should remain in their residences as much as possible, leaving only to seek medical care, exercise or obtain food or other necessities.
“The governor’s action will help many local retailers, and their employees, who have been shut down for months under the shelter-in-place order,” Holly Schroeder, president and CEO of the SCV Economic Development Corp., wrote via email. “For independent, small businesses, this starts them on the path to recovery.”
Public Health officials are expected to continue monitoring COVID-19 data indicators closely and may, after consultation with the Board of Supervisors, adjust orders to reflect specific county needs.
“The sooner we are able to open our businesses safely, the sooner we can get people back to work and begin the economic recovery,” John Musella, spokesman for the SCV Chamber of Commerce, added via email. “We’re encouraged by the governor’s actions, but we are also, most immediately, focused on getting the L.A. County Board of Supervisors to allow Santa Clarita to apply for a variance directly with the state of California. We are on the road to recovery faster than other areas of the county of Los Angeles, and we believe we should be recognized for that and allowed to move toward a full, safe reopening.”
The motion that would have allowed variance for the county’s northern region, which was originally asked for by cities such as Santa Clarita, Palmdale and Lancaster, and would have allowed these cities to plan their own reopening processes, was not passed by the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.