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Businesses reopen nearly 1 year after first COVID-19 health officer order

SIGNAL FILE PHOTO: Regal Valencia, located at Westfield Valencia Town Center. Tammy Murga/The Signal

Los Angeles County moved into the red tier Monday, allowing businesses to reopen one day before the anniversary of the first COVID-19 health officer order that forced businesses deemed non-essential to close. 

Movie theaters, indoor dining at restaurants and gyms were all permitted to reopen for business Monday with modifications, as COVID-19 cases continue to decline and vaccination efforts increased in the county. 

“For the first time since the state created the blueprint for a safer economy last summer, L.A. County has moved from the most restrictive purple tier to the red tier,” Barbara Ferrer, director of L.A. County Department of Public Health, said during a news conference Monday. 

Nearly two weeks after L.A. County declared a state of emergency last year, the first COVID-19-related health officer order was issued March 16, which prohibited the gatherings of large crowds and closed businesses where patrons were in close contact with one another, including dine-in restaurants and gyms. 

Almost a year later, businesses and schools are able to reopen, if they adhere to mandatory face coverings, social distancing and capacity limitations. 

  • Museum, zoos and aquariums can open indoors at 25% capacity. 
  • Gyms, fitness centers, yoga and dance studios can open indoors at 10% capacity. 
  • Movie theaters can open indoors at 25% capacity with reserved seating. 
  • Retail and personal care services can increase capacity to 50%. 
  • Restaurants can open indoors at 25% max capacity. 
  • Indoor shopping malls can increase capacity to 50% and food courts can open at 25% capacity. 
  • Institutes of higher education can reopen all permitted activities with required safety modifications except for residential housing which remains under current restrictions for the spring semester. 
  • Schools are permitted to reopen for in-person instruction for students in grades 7-12 adhering to all state and county directives. 

Vaccine eligibility also expanded Monday to include those aged 16-64 with underlying health conditions and essential workers in public transit and janitorial work. Those in this sector will be required to bring documentation that verifies a serious medical condition. 

Documentation accepted will include a letter from health care providers, behavioral health providers or county-ran healthcare agencies, or a signed attestation stating the criteria of a high-risk medical condition or disability is met. 

Public Health officials also released the following updated COVID-19 statistics Monday, adding a lag in case reporting due to weekend delays: 

New COVID-19 cases reported in L.A. County in the past 24 hours: 422 

Total COVID-19 cases in L.A. County: 1,210,633 

New deaths related to COVID-19 reported: 6 

Total COVID-19 deaths in L.A. County: 22,475 

Hospitalizations countywide: 893; 28% of whom are in the ICU. 

Hospitalizations at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital as of March 10: 6, with 1,171 discharged since the onset of the pandemic. 

COVID-19 cases reported in the Santa Clarita Valley in the past 24 hours: 12, 8 of which came from the city of Santa Clarita. 

Total COVID-19 cases in the SCV: 26,764 

Total COVID-19 deaths in the SCV as of March 13: 279 

The numbers of SCV cases, including all area health care providers’ daily figures and those at Pitchess Detention Center, broken down into region, are as follows: 

City of Santa Clarita: 19,636 

Unincorporated – Acton: 456 

Unincorporated – Agua Dulce: 260 

Unincorporated – Bouquet Canyon: 45 

Unincorporated – Canyon Country: 809 

Unincorporated – Castaic: 3,646 (majority of Castaic cases come from Pitchess Detention Center, exact number unavailable) 

Unincorporated – Lake Hughes: 40 

Unincorporated – Newhall: 66 

Unincorporated – Placerita Canyon: 1 

Unincorporated – San Francisquito Canyon/Bouquet Canyon: 15 

Unincorporated – Sand Canyon: 17 

Unincorporated – Saugus: 132 

Unincorporated – Saugus/Canyon Country: 39 

Unincorporated – Stevenson Ranch: 1,092 

Unincorporated – Val Verde: 325 

Unincorporated – Valencia: 185 

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