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Orange County beach communities deal with businesses reclosing due to COVID-19

A shopper leaves Whole Foods in Fashion Island on first day of the latest shutdown of business.
A shopper leaves Whole Foods in Fashion Island on the first day of the latest shutdown of shopping malls, indoor dining, gyms, churches and hair salons, due to the rise of COVID-19.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Susie Smith was forced to shut down her Makin’ Waves Salon on Main Street in Huntington Beach at close of business Monday.

Smith is not sure when the downtown Surf City fixture will be allowed to reopen, after California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Monday order rolling back the reopening of the state during the coronavirus pandemic.

Newsom’s order halted all indoor dining and closed bars, zoos and museums statewide. In many counties, including Orange and Los Angeles, gyms, houses of worship, hair salons, malls and other businesses were forced to reclose.

“It’s indefinite, and that’s really scary,” Smith said.

Smith said she thought she could take her salon business outside, like many restaurants have, but she received notice from the California State Board of Barbering and Cosmetology stating otherwise.

“We feel like we’re being penalized for something we didn’t do,” she said, speaking for salon owners. “We’ve been so clean, and we’re so careful. We feel like it’s unfair for our industry.

“Stylists are just going to do house calls. People are still going to work ... [but] it’s like we’re being forced to work illegally, speakeasy style. We’re being forced to act like criminals to make a living to feed our families. It’s just ridiculous. I don’t know what they think people are going to do. Do they think we’re all going to go get a job at Smart & Final or something? We’re just not. We’re educated in our field, and we’re going to work, one way or another.”

Irvine became the first city in Orange County to open a drive-up testing site Monday, as COVID-19 numbers continued to steadily increase.

Many are feeling increased frustration as the state’s COVID-19 numbers continue to rise, though Huntington Beach spokeswoman Catherine Jun said the rollback wouldn’t affect the city’s Surf City Stroll outdoor dining program, which launched Saturday, or the citywide Open Air Dining program.

“Like the governor said, this pandemic isn’t going to take a linear course,” Jun said in an email. “Our community is learning to adapt and pivot with the changes.”

Bella Terra outdoor mall also remains open, spokeswoman Athena Sobhan confirmed Tuesday.

David Housholder, the pastor at nondenominational church the Well at Surf City, said his congregation will be worshiping via live streams on Facebook and YouTube again after three weeks of meeting in-person on Sundays. He added that outdoor worship was another possibility.

Housholder said he felt it was important not to overpoliticize the reclosing.

“You just have to be flexible with things like this,” he said. “As they say in recovery, in the Serenity Prayer there’s a place that says to change the things you can, to relax about the things you can’t and the wisdom to know the difference. This is one of those things we just don’t have a lot of control over. If we had the same statistics the governor had, we might voluntarily close ourselves.”

Supercuts was closed in Costa Mesa on first day of the latest shutdown.
Supercuts was closed in Costa Mesa on first day of the latest shutdown of hair salons, shopping malls and indoor dining due to the rise of COVID-19.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Costa Mesa

South Coast Plaza closed its indoor mall area at the end of the business day Monday.

“In accordance with Gov. Newsom’s order, we are temporarily closing the enclosed access to boutiques at South Coast Plaza,” Debra Gunn Downing, a spokeswoman for the mall, said in a statement. “Our retailers and restaurants, with their own entrances to the outside, may remain open. In addition, our successful SCP 2 Go curbside pickup service, which began in May, will continue to be available to our customers. We look forward to reopening all of South Coast Plaza soon.”

Orange County Board of Education members said Monday they believe a return to schools is the best course for children, in part, because science has shown youth are not at great risk of contracting COVID-19.

Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley said that the shutdown wasn’t a political issue but a public health issue.

“I will say that I was disappointed that we didn’t get advance notice,” Foley said. “We didn’t get an opportunity to be able to justify certain business sectors, businesses like the Plaza, because they are enforcing and complying with the governor’s orders. What is causing the massive community spread is not necessarily activities going on in a hair salon or at Chanel but rather the rampant violation by people going to bars and restaurants, hanging out and not wearing their face coverings and not complying with the prohibition of gatherings. That’s what’s causing the spread of the virus.”

Shoppers walk towards South Coast Plaza's east entrance Tuesday.
Shoppers walk towards South Coast Plaza’s east entrance Tuesday on the first day of the latest shutdown of shopping malls, indoor dining, gyms, churches and hair salons, due to the rise of COVID-19.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Newport Beach

Steve Rosansky, president and chief executive of the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce, took to a video message to chamber members to update them on the setback.

“These actions are another blow to the California economy and will certainly increase the ranks of the unemployed,” he said. “This will also put a further strain on state and local governments as tax revenues continue to tumble.”

The rockslide originated on a private parcel abutting the road between San Joaquin Hills Road and Eastbluff Drive North in late June.

In Newport, where Rosansky previously served as a City Council member and mayor, the initial sudden coronavirus impact in the spring blew a $13.5-million hole in the city budget in the final quarter of fiscal year 2020. Sales taxes alone were projected to fall by $1.3 million and bed taxes from the lucrative local tourism industry were expected to fall by $5.4 million in the final weeks of the year. Newport followed that up last month with a budget for the current fiscal year that assumed a $33.2-million gap from continuing pandemic impacts.

Rosansky urged people to wear masks and practice physical distancing “to help save our economy.”

Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach Mayor Bob Whalen said the city was complying with the governor’s orders.

“I think it was a prudent move by the government, given the spike in the hospitalization rates and increase in cases,” Whalen said. “The only way we’re going to get this under control in the short term is more social distancing and more people wearing masks, so everybody needs to get with the program, in my view.”

The state mandate has not affected Promenade on Forest, according to Assistant City Manager Shohreh Dupuis.

State officials have adopted a tiered system that prioritizes tests for hospital patients in California with COVID-19 symptoms.

The city of Laguna Beach launched the program in June after shutting down lower Forest Avenue for the summer. It includes decks for dining, retail display and performances to support the businesses along the street and provide restaurants the space availability to operate at sustainable levels and allow for residents and visitors to interact safely.

“During this pandemic, Laguna Beach has learned how to pivot,” said Paula Hornbuckle-Arnold, chief executive officer of the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce.

Hornbuckle-Arnold said that 10 Laguna businesses have been issued temporary use permits to have outdoor displays or dining. Six more applications are being processed.

Shoppers exit South Coast Plaza on Tuesday.
Shoppers exit South Coast Plaza on the first day of the latest shutdown of shopping malls, indoor dining, gyms, churches and hair salons due to the rise of COVID-19.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

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