Under California Governor Gavin Newsom’s four-phase guidelines, Los Angeles has reopened sectors of its economy, rolling back restrictions on certain types of businesses and public sites amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
While some residents have shown their desires to speed up the reopening steps for the local economy, others still believe the lockdown should be eased more carefully, Xinhua news agency reported.
California, with 40 million residents, is the largest state in the US and was the first to issue stay-at-home orders on March 19.
In a concerted effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 and avoid overwhelming the state’s public health system, the stay-at-home order temporarily shuttered retail shops and businesses that required people to be in close proximity.
For the first time after an almost two-month lockdown, some lower-risk retail businesses were being allowed to reopen since Friday, including bookstores, clothing and toy stores, florists, sporting goods, and take-out restaurants, amongst others, but only for curbside delivery.
No in-store shopping was allowed and business owners are encouraged to provide hand sanitizer to their customers and staff and to make use of hands-free payment devices to limit possible contamination vectors.
The easing of restrictions included reopening state and city hiking trails and beaches starting from Saturday, but again, with stringent social distancing and mask-wearing requirements in place.
Meanwhile in Los Angeles, attendance surged at beaches, parks and many just strolled the streets — in masks.
Some 1,500 people in Huntington Beach, a city of Orange County located 60 km south of downtown Los Angeles downtown, waved flags and signs to renew their disapproval with the state’s coronavirus restrictions on Saturday.
The protesters, most of whom were seen without facial coverings and also seemingly defying physical distancing guidelines, called the stay-at-home order “absolutely unconstitutional”.
In Los Angeles, a much smaller group protested outside Mayor Eric Garcetti’s home, pleading for more businesses to reopen their doors.
With an estimated 4 million unemployed in California due to the COVID-19 crisis and entire industries at risk, the pressure is mounting to reopen the state’s businesses and jump start its economy as soon as possible.
California uses six key indicators to determine when it is safe to initiate the next phase, which includes maintaining an ongoing availability of hospital beds, access to widespread testing, and reliable tracing systems to identify and isolate secondary infection vectors before they can escalate.
The state has 64,561 COVID-19 cases, with 2,678 deaths.