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L.A. County allowing shopping malls, nail salons and playgrounds to reopen

Shopping malls in L.A. County will be able to resume indoor operations with restrictions.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

After months of closure, shopping centers and nail salons in Los Angeles County will be allowed to resume indoor operations with limited capacity over the next 10 days. Outdoor playgrounds have also been given the green light to reopen following the state’s allowance on Tuesday.

Nail salons and indoor malls will be allowed to reopen at 25% capacity, but per state guidance, mall food courts and common areas will remain closed.

The decision to reopen parks falls to the city or county jurisdiction that oversees such spaces. If a city implements a stricter rule than the county, the more stringent enforcement would apply. The city of Los Angeles, for example, has previously closed businesses before the county’s orders.

As L.A. County continues to reopen, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said last week that he hopes “we will prioritize our youngest and most vulnerable children, getting them back to safe learning environments as our highest priority.”

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Officials announced the update one day after the Board of Supervisors voted to direct the Department of Public Health to allow for school waiver applications for grades TK-2. The board also passed a motion to reopen outdoor operations at breweries, wineries and card rooms.

The county is taking a staggered approach to reopening over the next 10 days and will announce dates for individual sectors Friday.

The county has been allowed to reopen several business sectors for weeks, but refrained until case data from Labor Day had been retrieved.

Health officials have not seen a surge connected to the holiday weekend, and announced Wednesday that the positivity rate — 3% — and hospitalization count — 734 — have reached their lowest levels since the start of the pandemic. But officials are projecting an increase in hospitalizations and community transmission in the coming weeks.

“We base all our decisions on the data and the science,” Supervisor Hilda Solis said. “We’ll continue to monitor, but of course will be reliant on people’s compliance.”

The county’s projected transmission rate — the number of people infected by one positive case — sits at 1 after creeping just above that number earlier this week. The goal for the county, and the state, is to keep that metric below 1 because the higher it rises, the greater the rate of transmission.

The data relies on the understanding that people’s actions remain constant. A change in activity affects the forecast.

“If our behavior does not remain constant, we’ll see that change,” Human Services Director Dr. Christina Ghaly said.

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The state has projected an 89% increase in hospitalizations throughout the state by Oct. 25. In L.A. County, officials are preparing for that surge. While resources are stable, Ghaly warned flu season could change that.

“The number of ICU beds in the near future could become inadequate,” she said.

Officials announced 30 additional COVID-19 deaths and 1,063 new cases Wednesday, bringing the total number of recorded infections in the county to more than 269,390. To date, more than 2.6 million COVID-19 tests have been conducted.


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