Newsletter: Some of you can get a haircut today

Barber and salon owner Steve Curtis cuts Bill Janeway's hair at Joncolby's Hair Salon on Tuesday in Yorba Linda.
Barber and salon owner Steve Curtis cuts Bill Janeway’s hair Tuesday at Joncolby’s Hair Salon in Yorba Linda, after Gov. Gavin Newsom said salons and barbershops could reopen in certain parts of the state.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Wednesday, May 27, and I’m writing from Los Angeles.

Another day, another set of reopening announcements — with one big takeaway. Many Californians will be able to show up with freshly shorn hair when they attend in-person religious services this weekend, if they so choose. (Such ordinary activities, so unthinkable but a week ago!)

On Tuesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that California counties can begin reopening hair salons and barbershops. The news came a day after his administration issued statewide guidelines for resuming in-person services at houses of worship. The move to resume salon services officially marks the transition in many parts of the state to Phase 3 of Newsom’s reopening plan.

[Read the story: “Hair salons, barbershops can reopen now, in Stage 3 of Newsom’s plan” in the Los Angeles Times]

As with the guidelines already laid out for other sectors, hair salons and barbershops will be asked to practice physical distancing, along with a host of other safety measures. Workers and customers will be urged to wear face coverings. Haircuts, weaves, extensions, braiding, loc maintenance, wig maintenance, hair relaxing treatments and color services will be allowed, but other work that requires employees to touch a client’s face, such as facials or eyelash and eyebrow services, will remain suspended.


What parts of the state are entering Phase 3?

To be eligible to move ahead of the current statewide restrictions and reopen hair salons and barbershops, counties must have already met certain criteria and had their individual COVID-19 variance plans approved. Newsom said Tuesday that 47 of California’s 58 counties had met the state’s regional standards to date.

But don’t expect a haircut in Los Angeles or San Francisco, both of which are among the 11 counties that have not yet had COVID-19 variance plans approved by the state. Marin, Contra Costa, Alameda, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Monterey, Tulare and Imperial counties will also remain no-haircut zones.

What’s next for L.A. County?

Los Angeles County, which accounts for the bulk of the state’s COVID-19 cases and more than half of its reported deaths, is continuing to reopen more businesses, albeit at a slower pace than in other areas.

But two important things happened for the county on Tuesday. In the early evening, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health released a new order, aligning the county with California’s latest guidelines and allowing for the resumption of faith-based services, in-store shopping at low-risk retail stores and other recreational activities with restrictions.

Under the shift, faith-based organizations in L.A. County can resume services, with the number of congregants limited to 25% of the building’s capacity, or a maximum of 100 people, whichever is lower. These attendance limits mirror the state guidelines. Gatherings of people not from the same household are still prohibited, except for faith-based services and in-person protests.

And after meeting in a closed session, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors announced early Tuesday evening that they would submit their own variance application to the state. If the variance is approved, the county could allow some in-person dining in restaurants — although the city of Los Angeles could still choose to maintain its own more stringent restrictions.

[Read the story: “L.A. County will ask state to allow restaurants, other businesses to reopen sooner” in the Los Angeles Times]

Kathryn Barger, who chairs the county Board of Supervisors, said the state approved Ventura County’s variance plan in about 48 hours, and she expressed hope that Gov. Gavin Newsom would be similarly supportive of L.A.'s bid.

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:

Trump targets California in his latest attack on mail-in voting: Facing a potentially difficult path to reelection, Trump expanded his attacks on states using mail-in ballots, a scorched-earth campaign that could undermine confidence in the democratic process as the novel coronavirus threatens to make in-person voting more dangerous. Trump falsely accused California of distributing ballots to “people who aren’t citizens, illegals” and “anybody who is walking or breathing.” Citing no proof, he warned that people would print fake ballots and send them in “by the hundreds of thousands.” Los Angeles Times

The role of “silent spreaders” in transmitting the coronavirus is becoming an even greater issue for health officials as they ease stay-at-home rules and slowly reopen the economy. Los Angeles Times


L.A. County supervisors demand answers on Vernon coronavirus outbreaks: Alarmed by a rising number of coronavirus infections among meatpacking workers in Vernon, the Board of Supervisors gave local health officials and plant operators one week to review worker safety protocols and report back. Los Angeles Times

The Farmer John plant in Vernon.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

The Los Angeles Police Department is set to award officers who have college degrees nearly $41 million in bonuses in the coming budget year, even as thousands of other city employees face pay cuts amid a financial crisis at City Hall. Los Angeles Times

L.A. Metro seeks $120 million more for the Crenshaw Line. The cost overruns on the $2.06-billion Crenshaw Line come as crews work to repair flaws in the project, delaying its opening until mid-2021. Los Angeles Times

Short-term rentals of Hollywood Hills homes have become a spot for illicit underground parties with nightclubs shuttered because of the coronavirus outbreak. Now, the Los Angeles city attorney and Los Angeles Police Department are warning homeowners they can be held accountable criminally and civilly for renter’s unruly parties. Los Angeles Times

What’s a TV writers’ room without shared snacks? “In writers’ rooms, staff members regularly trot out humiliating details from their childhoods and their sex lives for inspiration. But looking around the insides of one another’s houses was a new level of intimacy.” The New Yorker

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Dozens of cross-border workers are sleeping on the sidewalk or inside their cars to be among the first enter the United States once the the Otay Mesa Port of Entry opens each morning. Limited hours and long wait times have turned the port of entry into an overnight campground, as Mexico-based workers with jobs in San Diego struggle to make it to work on time. San Diego Union-Tribune

San Ysidro won’t be open for business until the border is: Even as retail begins to reopen, businesses in the southernmost neighborhood of San Diego continue to struggle without cross-border shoppers. San Diego Union-Tribune


Orange County supervisors expressed concerns that Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plan to reopen places of worship with major restrictions is too constraining for megachurches and other large institutions. The board’s unanimously approved resolution also declared religious services “essential.” Los Angeles Times

A trove of text messages shows San Francisco Mayor London Breed ordered homeless sweeps directly — despite frequent denials. “Man sleeping on bench on Hayes st near gough. Can someone come ASAP. I’m in the area having lunch” reads a message sent from Breed to San Francisco’s police chief, her own chief of staff and others on Aug. 22 of 2019. Mission Local


A heat wave will bake Southern California through Thursday, boosting the mercury to dangerously high levels in some inland areas and parching vegetation that could serve as fuel for brush fires, forecasters say. Los Angeles Times


A powerhouse of a state in “economic free fall”: California’s strengths — as a hub for commerce, tourism and education in the Pacific Rim — have become liabilities in the pandemic. New York Times

Oakland McDonald’s workers are on strike after allegedly being told to wear dog-diaper masks. Organizers say workers at the Telegraph Avenue fast-food restaurant were told to wear face masks made out of unused dog diapers, or to use coffee filters to make masks, when they ran out of masks handed out by management. At least four workers and their family members have gotten sick with COVID-19. Los Angeles Times

Uncertainty on Sonoma County’s Russian River and coast as the summer season begins amid a pandemic: “Already, the stream of day-trippers and overnight guests discernible in recent weeks has provoked unease in this region where tourist dollars drive much of the economy.” Santa Rosa Press Democrat


J.K. Rowling is publishing a new children’s book online. The “Harry Potter” author released the first two chapters Tuesday and said the story will be released for free over the next seven weeks. Los Angeles Times

Pop-Up Magazine is going online for the first time. Made by the publishers of California Sunday, Pop-Up has long traveled the country with writers, comedians, filmmakers, audio producers and photographers, performing a live-format “magazine.” Their spring issue will be online Wednesday. Pop-Up Magazine

A poem to start your Wednesday: “A Ritual to Read to Each Other” by William Stafford. Poetry Foundation

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Los Angeles: sunny, 84. San Diego: sunny, 76. San Francisco: sunny, 75. San Jose: sunny, 93. Fresno: sunny, 107. Sacramento: sunny, 102. More weather is here.


Today’s California memory comes from Norm Cohen:

Around 1949-51, we lived near Fairfax High, and on Saturdays my friend and I would bicycle five miles to the north end of Western Avenue. Then we’d follow Fern Dell into Griffith Park as far as possible, dump bikes in the shrubbery and hike up to the Griffith Observatory for the latest planetarium show. Afterwards we’d scramble back down and pedal to Hollywood Boulevard to the Hollywood Magic Store before returning home. One time we were joined near the park by a friendly canine, who persisted in following us all the way home. The dog’s tag read “O. Nelson,” with a phone number, which turned out to belong to bandleader/radio personality Ozzie Nelson, who came to retrieve his pet. Did he reward us for returning his dog? I don’t recall; I like to think he gave us some free tickets to the Ozzie and Harriet radio show.

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints, ideas and unrelated book recommendations to Julia Wick. Follow her on Twitter @Sherlyholmes.