NEARLY three months since the coronavirus upended daily life and forced strict measures to be enacted, Los Angeles County moved forward with the third phase of easing restrictions on Friday, June 12.
Under the modified health order, gyms, fitness facilities, hotels, lodging, short-term rentals, museums, galleries, zoos, aquariums, day camps, RV parks, campgrounds, outdoor recreation areas and pools were given the green light to reopen under certain guidelines.
The ‘new normal’ includes limited capacity at attractions like museums and zoos, advanced reservations for campgrounds, face coverings for athletes when not playing, and leaving hotel rooms vacant for 24 to 72 hours after a guest has departed for cleaning.
California state officials last June 5 announced that counties could start to reopen gyms, day camps, bars and certain professional sports.
“We ask that businesses take the time they need to fully implement the directives before they open… and that they provide a copy of their implementation plan for all their employees,” said Barbara Ferrer, director of the LA County Department of Public Health. “And as this weekend begins, please remember that a safe recovery journey relies on every single one of us, businesses and residents.”
The reopening on Friday came as the county health department confirmed 20 new deaths and 1,633 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 2,832 deaths and 70,476 positive infections. To date, 17% of total deaths were individuals of Asian descent.
Ferrer reminded residents to continue physical distancing, wearing cloth face coverings and observing other infection control measures as businesses start to open their doors once again.
“If at any time, the county’s rate of infection and other key metrics demonstrate a rapid acceleration of new cases that threatens to overwhelm the healthcare system, the Department of Public Health and the Board of Supervisors may need to limit future re-openings or close reopened sectors,” the county said in its guidance.
CrazyFIT, a gym in San Fernando, quickly shifted toward online classes and training once safer-at-home measures took effect last March. But by Friday, it was prepared to welcome members back inside its facility by putting safety protocols in place, such as limiting class sizes and providing sprays and wipes for equipment and hand sanitizer stations throughout the gym.
“We’re making sure that we’re doing a much better job, not just around cleaning as staff, but to instill a culture within our members and community to let them know to be mindful of the safety, well-being and health of not just yourself, but everyone else,” Filipino American owner Crizam Carlos told the Asian Journal.
He added that workouts have been reprogrammed so there is “less changing and sharing of equipment” amongst individuals. Classes have been reduced to at most nine participants so they can be spread out 6-feet apart.
“We also want to remind people to quarantine themselves if they feel sick, have traveled recently or have been in contact with someone who was ill,” Carlos said, adding that workouts will still be available online for those who can’t physically come into the gym.
County officials announced the latest slate of reopenings on Wednesday and only announced safety measures the day after. Many businesses that fall under the allowed categories aren’t rushing to reopen by this weekend.
“My first source of information on what’s going on in the county is usually other business owners,” Carlos said. “It’s good to have the community of other entrepreneurs so we spread the news quickly because the requirements are always changing.”
Professional sports without live audiences and music, film and television production were also allowed to reopen on Friday.
However, nail salons, tattoo shops, bars, wineries, movie theaters and theme parks continue to be closed in the county.