Speculation about when life will return to normal—or at least, a more familiar version of the “new normal”—has dominated headlines and dinner table conversations across the country for the last few weeks, as governors and county leadership work out roadmaps for reopening public spaces such as restaurant dining rooms, beaches, parks, beauty salons and offices, amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
On Thursday, May 7, many Los Angeles County retail stores began to open for curbside pickup under strict guidelines provided by the LA County Department of Public Health.
On Wednesday, May 13, public hiking trails reopened across LA County (with some notable exceptions including the popular Solstice Canyon trail).
On Saturday, May 16, public beaches followed suit—together with strict guidelines that masks must be worn and beachgoers may not sit on the sand, lay out on blankets and towels or play group activities such as volleyball. Many of those rules were not—and are not—being adhered to.
This week, the county added in-person retail, religious worship services and private community swimming pools to the list.
As of Tuesday, May 26, the LA County Department of Public Health is allowing for the following reopening measures:
All indoor and outdoor retail shopping centers may reopen for business at 50 percent capacity
Flea markets, swap meets and drive-in movie theaters may also reopen
Faith-based organizations may resume services, with the number of congregants limited to less than 25 percent of the building’s capacity or a maximum of 100 people, whichever is lower
Pools, hot tubs and saunas that are in a multi-unit residence or part of a homeowners association may reopen
The announcement came amid a particularly steep increase in new novel coronavirus cases in the county—with 1,843 new cases reported on Tuesday. That count came in following several days of smaller new case numbers but followed a general pattern of volatility when it came to day-to-day COVID-19 statistics across LA County.
Malibu, which has not seen its numbers rise since total cases grew to 35 last week, will be following guidance set by the county, according to statements made by City Manager Reva Feldman near the top of the Tuesday, May 26, Malibu City Council meeting. Feldman alluded to the new rules and said the city would be “pushing out that information tomorrow [Wednesday] morning.”
Locally, Malibu’s city parks reopened to the public on May 15, “with social distancing requirements and safety guidelines.” Those include masks being worn at all times.
Indoor facilities, playgrounds and the community pool at Malibu High School remained closed.
Neighboring Ventura County, with notably fewer cases of COVID-19, is a step ahead of LA County in reopening, having opened dine-in restaurants in time for Memorial Day Weekend. On Tuesday, county officials announced barber shops and hair salons could also reopen, following an announcement by Governor Gavin Newsom stating that 47 of California’s 58 counties were ready to take the step.
“The County of Ventura was approved for a state variance last week allowing the county to move faster through California’s reopening phases,” Ventura County announced, adding that barber and hair care services could only include “services that allow for both the stylist and customer to wear face coverings for the entirety of the service,” like trims, braiding, wig maintenance and color services; eyebrow waxing and threading, facials and other beauty treatments were still banned as they include “touching the customer’s face.”
In order for LA County to move forward toward reopening following the current statewide metrics, it must meet a series of criteria, including: show a stabilization in hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients, with no more than a five percent daily percent change across a seven-day average; have fewer than 25 new cases per 100,00 residents in the past 14 days or less than eight percent testing positive in the past seven days; provide testing availability for at least 75 percent of residents (within 30 minutes’ driving time in urban areas); and have sufficient contact tracing for health officials to trace contacts with positive cases.
County officials have a stated goal of entering the next stage of reopening by July 4.