Reopening L.A.: Coronavirus Restrictions Easing On Retailers & Trails; Movie Theaters Next, Maybe

Dominic Patten/Deadline

Following the path of guidelines already laid out by Governor Gavin Newsom, Los Angeles County officials today unveiled their own incremental plan to reopen the region partially starting at the end of this week.

“The health order will only allow curbside pickup for retail, and in-store shopping will still be on hold for the time being,” LA County Supervisor Kathryn Barger announced Wednesday. Labeled as a Stage 2 process commencing on May 8, the scheme is to have “non-essential” businesses such as book stores, florists, toy stores, clothing and sporting-goods shops and music shops be able to take and fulfill orders directly from customers.

With further clarification to come in the next 24 hours, Supervisor Barger and Public Health director Barbara Ferrer said this National Nurses Day that with masks mandatory and social distancing restrictions in place, the likes of car dealerships, golf courses and public hiking trails will also be open this weekend – as you can see in the handout below that the County prepared for today’s dispatch.

Though the beaches of SoCal remained shut from the public, Ferrer confirmed Wednesday that the County does have a blueprint to unlock the gates to the coastline “in the very near future.”

“These are all in alignment with the governor’s orders,” Barger stated of the latest moves to ease the lockdown that has gripped LA County since late March. “Los Angeles County cannot be more lenient on which stores can reopen than the state dictates,” This list is less about what products are sold and more about the ability to maintain social distancing.”

“All of the businesses that will be reopening will open in a much-modified way that allows for optimum physical distancing and infection-control practices,” Ferrer noted of this clearly tentative step. “It’s incumbent on every one of us to protect each other by adhering to the distancing requirements, use our face coverings when we’re around others, wash our hands frequently, isolate ourselves when we’re sick and quarantine when it’s appropriate,” the Public Health boss made sure to say during today’s presentation.

“Mother’s Day is always a big weekend for us, but this is crazy, people aren’t ready yet,” one Tinseltown hotspot boutique owner told Deadline as the news of the Stage 2 reopening filtered throughout the business community.

With deaths from COVID-19 hitting a hard 1,367 in LA County as of today and over 28,600 confirmed cases, both Barger and Ferrer were blunt that the reopening will be monitored extremely carefully and could be terminated if conditions worsen.

At the same time, it seems that more at risk venues like movie theaters and tattoo parlors could be next to push their doors open and let in customers. However, with an already severely shortened summer blockbuster season upon us, neither officials would be drawn out to give specifics on when cinemas and more high ricks business could get the green light – and there has been no word on when shuttered Hollywood production could spring to life again in town.

At the same time, there’s no way that local officials can’t be aware that states like Georgia and Texas that have already essentially begun to reopen in recent weeks are starting to see an uptick in coronavirus cases in their respective regions. That warning sign becomes all the more looming when you consider that local, regional and national health officials have all warned that a second wave of the virus is almost certain to come later this year.

At the same time as county officials want to loosen the restrictions that have been in place for the past several weeks, L.A. city officials want Sacramento to allow them to freeze any rent increases during the health crisis.

“All city residents affected by COVID-19 need relief from the confines of the state’s Costa-Hawkins Act, which prohibits local jurisdictions from establishing rent control on buildings with a certificate of occupancy issued after 1995,” L.A. Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell declared of the emergency ordinance the city council has passed.

“This action to suspend certain restrictions, which can only be performed through an emergency order by the Governor or approval of state lawmakers, would give cities the ability to provide additional protections for renters impacted by the pandemic,” O’Farrell, the Councilmember for the city’s Hollywood encompassing 13th district concluded.

The measure from city council comes even though the California Judicial Council put a halt on evictions in the Golden State last month. Despite that, owners and landlords are continuing to kick people out in these hard times when many can’t pay the rent. It should also be noted that more than half of the residents of L.A., the city and the county, are renters in this high priced market.

With all that having happened today, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti is set to go before the cameras around 5:15 PM to give his regular remote press briefing. Undoubtedly, the Mayor will be address the easing plan and how far he is willing to let it go within the city limits.

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