Los Angeles County, which accounts for over half of California’s COVID-19 deaths, is moving deeper into phase two of the state’s reopening plan, which lets operations resume at places like barbershops and restaurants.
Chair of the L.A. County Board of Supervisors Kathryn Barger told a press conference Friday that state authorities approved a regional variance—a kind of permit that lets counties further open their economies if they meet benchmarks—including around case, hospitalization, and testing data.
“Our Board of Supervisors voted to seek a variance from the State to align with the majority of other counties in California,” Barger said, adding, “Today, we got word that Gov. Newsom approved the variance, allowing barbershops, hair salons, and restaurants to reopen.”
She said the move represents “monumental progress for Los Angeles County on the path toward recovery.”
The variances allow counties to move deeper into phase two of California’s reopening roadmap. The county submitted its variance application on Wednesday to state authorities, with Barger telling the Los Angeles Times she was hopeful for an approval by Friday.
“Regional data shows we have flattened the curve, indicating our readiness to move forward in phased recovery,” Barger told the Los Angeles Times.
“This will put Los Angeles County on a level playing field with surrounding counties, which have already been granted variances,” she added.
Earlier in the week, California Gov. Gavin Newsom cleared the way for barbershops and hair salons to open in counties approved to move deeper into phase two.
“Along those lines, they [counties] will be able to add in barbershops and hair salons to those regional variations starting today,” Newsom said on Tuesday, adding that the businesses will have to operate with safety modifications.
“We put those guidelines out … and those counties will begin to allow for those kinds of operations with meaningful modifications,” he added, citing things like protective gear, face coverings, and sanitizing protocols.
County health officials are expected to announce restrictions on operations, which will be detailed in reopening protocols, which have not yet been released publicly.
“We are waiting on the County’s order outlining a reopen date and protocols for businesses. Those protocols and info on included businesses will be posted,” Santa Clarita City authorities announced in a statement, and provided a link where the protocols would be made available.
Barger told the press conference the guidelines would be released shortly.
“This is a significant step towards revitalizing our economy, particularly supporting our local businesses, who often rely on foot traffic and thrive because of in-store shopping,” she said.
Newsom warned earlier in the week that as more businesses reopen, the risk of a resurge of COVID-19 cases would increase.
“We’re moving forward. We’re not looking back, but we are walking into the unknown, the untested, literally and figuratively,” he said.
According to an L.A. County Public Health tally, last updated on Thursday, there were 49,774 cases of COVID-19 infections, 2,241 deaths, 1,094 daily new cases, and 48 daily new deaths.