Businesses in LA County reopened this weekend—some in violation of health orders

More than a third of businesses surveyed by the county this weekend were found to be violation of health orders that took effect Friday and had to be shut down, officials said Monday.

“Our inspectors had to require some businesses to close since they were not able to come into compliance,” said Barbara Ferrer, director of the county Department of Public Health.

She said 410 businesses were surveyed, and 162 were found to be in violation of the health orders that generally required curbside pickup of goods only, cloth face coverings for employees and customers and physical distancing. It was unclear how many of those 162 had to shut down.

“I do want to remind all of us, both residents and businesses, that we have to do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Ferrer said. “And it’s extraordinarily important to follow the health officer orders and directives. Businesses should not open until they can adhere to all the protocols, and they must post a completed checklist in a public place before they open so that their customers and their employees can be sure that this is a place that is able to provide the required protections.”

Long Beach similarly relaxed restrictions on low-risk businesses such as florists, golf courses and some retail, with curbside pickup only. The city has its own health department, so it can implement orders separately from the county and enforces those orders on its own.

Long Beach’s Health Officer, Dr. Anissa Davis, said Monday that businesses that opened for curbside pickup overwhelmingly complied with the rules.

She said some needed to be educated about what those regulations entailed, but “I haven’t heard of anyone needing to be shut down.”

It’s unclear, however, how many businesses in Long Beach have even opened up for curbside pickup, something many small retailers may not be prepared to do.

The county and city also reopened hiking trails and golf courses. The county said its beaches will reopen Wednesday for active use, and the city is expected to release information about its beaches on Tuesday.

Mayor Robert Garcia said the city has intentionally rolled out changes to the health order incrementally, announcing small tweaks every few days so that they can observe stores, trails, golf courses, tennis courts and other amenities as they reopen.

“Some of it is just a function of enforcement and making sure there’s capacity to monitor and patrol everything,” he said.

Ferrer said monitors at hiking trials reported “larger but manageable crowds” over the weekend, and the monitors were “able to remind users to adhere to physical distancing, to wear their cloth face coverings and to not linger.”

She said people on golf courses were also “very compliant, and they did adhere to the physical distancing protocols and all of the restrictions.”

She said maintaining such compliance will be critical to ensuring that businesses and recreation facilities can stay open—particularly with beaches set to reopen for active use only beginning Wednesday.

“It is still safer, however, to remain at home,” Ferrer said. “COVID-19 has not changed. It is relatively easy to transmit and people, especially people with underlying health conditions, can become seriously ill from the virus.”

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