barber shop

T Sarmina gets a haircut from barber Jimmy Nguyen at Floyd's 99 Barbershops in Long Beach on Thursday, Aug. 13.

Hair salons and barber shops can reopen to indoor operations under an updated Los Angeles County Health Order, officials announced Wednesday, Sept. 2.

The decision allows the businesses to reopen amid the pandemic under “modified” conditions — including 25% customer capacity — while adhering to strict physical distancing measures such as frequent cleansing, air filtration and spacing.

Such businesses are able to open immediately, as soon as they have the chance to review the updated health order, said L.A. County Health Officer Muntu Davis said.

The county’s coronavirus-spurred public health order did yet not appear to be updated as of early afternoon. But the revision was expected soon.

While indoor operations can resume at limited capacity, Davis urged businesses to stay outdoors for core operations and reserve limited capacity for services that cannot be done outdoors.

The revised health order applies only to barber shops and hair salons, Davis said, noting that the county was moving ahead on a “cautious and measured” reopening with lessons learned from the the last wave of reopenings, which officials said spurred a resurgence of the disease.

“As we slowly reopen sectors we will watch how closely it is affecting our case transmission,” he said.

Other officials echoed Davis.

“Options for increasing that capacity will be re-evaluated three weeks after Labor Day,” said L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn in a Wednesday tweet.

The action comes after the county Board of Supervisors and the county’s public health chief discussed Tuesday how to align the county’s health order with new statewide pandemic guidance.

That guidance, announced Friday by Gov. Gavin Newsom, had allowed salons, barber shops and malls to reopen indoors, but it gave authority to local counties on whether to let that happen.

Malls and other businesses, such as cardrooms, which could potentially open under the state guidance, were not yet allowed to reopen under the county’s revisions announced Tuesday.

Hair salons and barbershops had been closed to indoor customer traffic since July, when a second surge of the virus forced public health officials to toughen restrictions to help contain the spread.

With many smaller businesses teetering on the brink of insolvency, they got hope on Friday when Newsom laid out his new, four-tiered economic “blueprint” system allowing some businesses to open depending on which tier a county is in.

Under that new system, L.A. County is in Tier 1 — still the highest and most “widespread” risk for community transmission of the virus. But still, the state’s new framework gave counties discretion to let malls and hair salons take their operations indoors, with modifications, depending on county health data.

As of Monday, there was no guarantee that L.A.County would do that, even as surrounding counties such as Orange allow their salons, malls and barbershops re-open indoors.

In a moment reminiscent of back in May, county officials are wary of re-opening too early — an action that could lead to a surge in the virus, like those seen after Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.

Back then, pushes to ease stay-home restrictions and health orders on businesses coincided with massive crowds at beaches and mammoth protests on local public roadways, and ultimately led to higher case rates, more hospitalizations and deaths, county officials said.

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