TimesOC: Latest news in Orange County

Diners at Las Brisas in Laguna Beach enjoy lunch outside Monday.
Diners at Las Brisas in Laguna Beach enjoy lunch outside Monday, shortly after officials announced a regional stay-at-home order would be lifted and Orange County would return to the “purple” reopening tier.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Good morning, and welcome to the TimesOC newsletter. It’s Wednesday, Jan. 27.

My name is John Canalis, an assistant managing editor with the Los Angeles Times.

Perhaps you were taken by surprise, as I was, to see legal (yes, I am aware of the many scofflaws) patio dining return this week. Or that barber shops and salon chairs had clients gracing them once again. That maximum occupancy went up a bit in shops and stores, easing those long waits in line.

We all heard this was coming when Gov. Gavin Newsom lifted the restrictive stay-at-home orders on Monday. But many of us had grown so accustomed to seeing curtailed businesses that we did a double-take when, lo and behold, things returned to the COVID-era normal in place before Thanksgiving.

Normal-normal will have to wait until cases decline significantly.

My colleague Sara Cardine summed up the scene — and the latest data — under the headline, “With state’s stay-at-home order lifted, some in Orange County can get back to business.” And photographer Don Leach captured the above image — once a sight so common it wouldn’t be news — of diners being served on the patio at Las Brisas in Laguna Beach.

Though this is all promising, we are not nearly out of the woods.

As Cardine writes, “Orange County will operate in the most-restrictive ‘purple’ reopening tier, which means restaurants may resume outdoor dining, while barbers, nail and hair salons can reopen in a limited capacity.”

And getting out of Purple Purgatory and into Before Times Heaven could take a while if more people don’t receive inoculations (and, of course, distance, wear masks and avoid large gatherings).

But getting vaccinated is nothing short of an E ticket in O.C. As Cardine noted in another story: “Strong winds and harsh weather conditions forced the Orange County Health Care Agency to close its Disneyland vaccine super site in Anaheim, turning away thousands of appointment holders for the third time since last week.”

Patience, my friends, patience.

Thomas, left, was convicted of robbery when he was 19.
Thomas, left, was convicted of robbery when he was 19. As of Friday, his felony conviction was removed from his record.
(Courtesy of UCI)

Here’s a look some other notable stories countywide.


— In Orange County, Young Adult Court offers a path to clear felony convictions

— Huntington Beach man dies from injuries after car collides into Newport Beach cat shelter

— Newport Beach city officials break ground on new Fire Station No. 2 after years of planning


— An Irvine chef shares how her business is thriving during the pandemic

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— Column: Chapman dean’s retirement begs the question: How far is too far?

— Column: I just got my COVID vaccine. Here’s why that’s a problem

— Ortiz, Steel stances on the coronavirus, other issues draw controversy


— Orange County teens team up with Second Serve to provide tennis equipment to underprivileged kids

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