Stores are open. But they’re limited to curbside pickup. Restaurants are open. But not everywhere, and they can’t serve everyone with regular sit-down service. Beaches are open, but only for specific activities. You can play tennis and golf, but you can’t get a legal haircut. Those are just some of the issues facing Southern California as it slowly emerges from two months of pandemic lockdown.
Southern California is heading back into civilization this weekend, but just what is permissible is creating much confusion among citizens and the businesses that serve them. That’s creating a brewing anger, as the rules seem to be arbitrary and hurting small retail businesses the most, as they watch big box stores serve customers while they are forced to legally sit on the sidelines.
Adding to the confusion are the mixed messages being delivered by government. Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said the city would be in lockdown for three more months. Mayor Eric Garcetti tried to walk back that notion, saying that she meant social distancing and masks would apply. But then he indicated that it was unlikely the city would return to normal until a coronavirus cure was found, something that remains far off into the future by even the most optimistic evaluations.
Southern California’s beaches, which saw confrontations earlier this month between angry citizens and horseback riding police, are now open for swimming and surfing. But you can’t sit on the sand or play volleyball with your group. Parking lots in many locations are closed, as are piers and boardwalks and paths, complicating how to get to the beach. You must also wear a mask on the sand, but don’t have to when you hit the water.