State allows LA County, Long Beach to reopen hair salons, dine-in restaurants

Long Beach’s hair salons and dine-in restaurants are now able to open under strict health guidelines after the state on Friday approved the city and county’s application for a fast-tract reopening in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The variance will allow for restaurants to resume dine-in services at a lower capacity and hair salons and barber shops to reopen under guidelines that will be posted on the city’s website.

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia in a news conference Friday said residents shouldn’t expect things to reopen quickly, noting that many businesses have indicated that they are not yet ready.

“Today marks a new chapter in this reopening processes, one that we should be entering incredibly cautiously,” Garcia said. “Don’t expect everything to spring open, because now it’s up to the individual business owner. It’s not like a light switch, but a dimmer.”

The reopenings for personal grooming only include hair services and do not include nail salons, estheticians and massage services. The mayor said city code enforcement teams will be out this weekend enforcing the health orders at local businesses and restaurants.

The news comes as Long Beach on Friday reported four more deaths from coronavirus, bringing the total to 85, including 66 from long-term care facilities. The city reported 1,850 cases on Friday, up from 1,741 on Thursday. Officials noted that the number of new cases will likely continue climb as more people are being tested.

Though Long Beach and LA County had both been slated for slower reopening as the region has been hit harder by the coronavirus pandemic, Garcia this week said he was optimistic that the application would be approved.

Los Angeles County is home to roughly half of the state’s coronavirus cases and deaths. It had been one of only about a dozen California counties not to have received a “variance” from the state allowing more types of businesses to reopen.

The variances are granted based on a list of criteria, including infection rates, hospital capacity, testing availability and ability to trace contacts of infected residents.

With the state on Friday granting the variance, it will now be up to the city of Long Beach, which has it own health department, and county to amend their more restrictive health orders and provide guidelines for the resumption of dine-in service at restaurants and for hair salons to reopen.

Other Southern California counties, including Orange, Riverside and San Diego, received variances last week, and restaurants were permitted to open there with a series of health restrictions—such as limited capacity, required social distancing and face coverings for staff and customers.

Los Angeles County on Friday reported another 1,824 cases of coronavirus, raising the overall total to 51,562. While the number of new cases continues to grow, officials said other indicators, such as hospitalizations and the rate of positive cases per 100,000 residents, have flattened or decreased.

In a news conference, Barbara Ferrer, Director of LA County’s Department of Public Health, said health order protocols for restaurants and hair salons will be posted online today, and businesses can open as soon as they meet those protocols, potentially as early as tonight.

Ferrer said businesses will not be inspected before they reopen and it is trusted that they will adhere to health protocols.

“This is like the honor system because we’re all in this together,” she said.

– City News Service contributed to this report 

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Valerie Osier is a breaking news and crime reporter for the Long Beach Post. She’s a Riverside native who found her love for journalism while at community college. She graduated from Cal State University, Long Beach journalism program in 2017 and covered the Palos Verdes Peninsula for the Daily Breeze prior to coming to the Post. She lives in Long Beach with her husband, Steven, and her cat/child, Jones.
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