Public Health: Indoor malls, nail salons and playgrounds can soon reopen with modifications

Shoppers in the Westfield Valencia Town Center on Wednesday, June 10, 2020. Dan Watson/The Signal
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A day after announcing that breweries and wineries could resume outdoors, Los Angeles County officials said Wednesday that a handful of sectors could reopen with modifications over the next 10 days, including indoor malls, nail salons and playgrounds. 

In seeing stabilization with COVID-19 hospitalizations and case and positivity rates as it relates to California’s blueprint for reopening, Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said the following sectors can reopen with restrictions over the next 10 days, with specific dates expected to come by Friday:

Outdoor playgrounds 

Outdoor public playgrounds also received the green light to reopen but only with the approval and at the discretion of cities and the county Parks and Recreation Department, said Ferrer.  

In Santa Clarita, playgrounds, which have been closed for months, will reopen “when we get the green light from the county,” city Communications Manager Carrie Lujan said Wednesday. 

Parents and children ages 2 and up must wear a face covering and food and beverages will not be allowed in playground areas. 

“Parents will be encouraged to monitor their children to ensure that they maintain a 6-foot physical distance from other children not in their household, and that they take infection control procedures, including sanitizing of hands before and after using any equipment on the playground,” said Ferrer. 

Indoor play areas will remain closed, except at day care facilities.

Indoor malls 

Indoor shopping malls will be allowed to reopen at 25% capacity and must keep food courts and common areas closed. These guidelines now match what the state allows under its first tier, or the most restrictive level of the four. 

The announcement comes two days after a class-action lawsuit was filed against the county by Westfield, the largest indoor mall operator in the region, with locations including the Valencia Town Center. The lawsuit alleged that closures were “unlawful and unjustifiable” and “without any rational basis whatsoever.” 

Over the past months, Westfield Valencia Town Center has had limited operations, such as outdoor dining and retailers with outside entrances kept open, as well as continued curbside services. 

Requests to lawyers for comment on the future of the lawsuit were not returned Wednesday. 

Nail salons 

Much like hair salons and barbershops, nail salons were briefly allowed to reopen in June since the onset of the pandemic but were ordered to shut down again about a month later following a surge in COVID-19 cases. 

Nail businesses will be able to reopen once again for indoor operations but at 25% capacity, following Wednesday’s announcement. Ferrer said businesses are still encouraged to offer outdoor services whenever possible. 

Card rooms

Card rooms may reopen for outdoor gaming only, while indoor use will be restricted to activities that pose a safety risk to workers if they are outside, such as cashiers. Food and beverages will not be allowed for the time being, said Ferrer. 

“We’re asking for full compliance by the card room operators,” she said. 

The announcement on reopenings comes as the county has seen a general decline in its COVID-19 numbers, Ferrer said. 

“Now that we have seen stabilizing or declining numbers across our metrics, and Los Angeles County didn’t experience a post-Labor Day surge similar to the increases seen after Memorial Day and July 4th, the Board of Supervisors approved several Public Health recommendations for the staggered reopening of several sectors permitted by the state for counties in tier 1 of the blueprint for a safer economy,” she said. 

The county’s percent test positivity, or the percentage of tests that are done that come back positive, has fallen significantly from an average of about 8% in July to about 3% in September — the lowest since the onset of the pandemic, according to Public Health.  

Hospitalizations have remained steady for the past couple of weeks after declining significantly since the middle of July, when the average reached 2,200 hospitalizations per day. As of Sept. 24, the daily average was 743. 

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