California gives go-ahead for in-person shopping at all retail stores

California health officials today gave the go-ahead for counties to reopen in-store retail shopping statewide, a major step in California’s emergence from shutdown orders issued in March to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The state had already allowed some less-effected counties to reopen in-store shopping at all retailers, but it’s now acceptable statewide as long as local jurisdictions acquiesce and follow the state’s safety guidelines.

Long Beach officials haven’t publicly said whether they’ll start allowing more in-person retail shopping. Currently nonessential retailers are limited to curbside pickup in the city.

“These topics are under review and are being discussed by city leadership,” said Jennifer Rice Epstein, a spokeswoman for Long Beach. “We should have information available in the near future.”

Local health departments are still allowed to implement stricter rules than the state, but locally, Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell and Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn had been urging Gov. Gavin Newsom to let small retailers reopen with restrictions similar to essential businesses like grocery and hardware stores.

Other local officials, however, such as LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis, did not support the idea. Long Beach and the LA area have been harder hit by the coronavirus than California at large.

Monday’s announcement doesn’t include personal services such as hair salons, nail salons and barbershops. But it came as the state released guidelines for resuming in-person services at churches and other houses of worship.

“Together, our actions have helped bend the curve and reduce infections in our state. As sectors continue to open with changes that aim to lower risk, remember that COVID-19 is still present in our communities,” said Dr. Sonia Angell, the state’s public health officer and director of the health department. “As more of us may be leaving our homes, keeping physical distance, wearing face coverings in public, and washing your hands frequently are more important than ever to help protect yourself and those around you.”

All reopenings are subject to approval by county public health departments—or in Long Beach’s case, the city’s health department. It was unclear when LA and Orange counties might act to facilitate the resumption of in-person shopping or worship services.

LA County retail businesses inside enclosed shopping malls were allowed to reopen this weekend, but only for curbside pickup service. Orange County has resumed in-restaurant dining and allowed curbside service for stores located in shopping centers.

This story was updated with a statement from the city of Long Beach. Long Beach Post Breaking News Editor Jeremiah Dobruck contributed to this report.

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