Restaurant sit down
Taco Shore on Second Street was among the first Belmont Shore restaurants to welcome sit-down diners last week under new city COVID-19 guidelines.
 

Long Beach hair salons and barber shops can reopen for business, and restaurants can once again allow customers to dine indoors, officials announced Friday, May 29.

Long Beach was included in an application that Los Angeles County submitted to the state earlier this week asking for the OK to move forward with lifting more closures that were intended to stem the spread of the coronavirus; state officials approved the application Friday.

Pasadena was also included in the application. Both Long Beach and Pasadena have their own health departments, separate from the county, and have been managing their own responses to COVID-19, unlike other LA County cities. But officials in both cities have said applying to move forward with LA County strengthened their position.

“Today’s news really marks a new chapter in this reopening process,” Mayor Robert Garcia said during a Friday afternoon briefing, “one that we should be entering incredibly cautiously.”

The news came as Long Beach reported four more residents had died due to coronavirus-related causes, bringing the city’s death toll to 85. There were also 116 new cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, reported in Long Beach. As of Friday, there were 1,857 infections identified in the city.

About 1,266 people have recovered, and 70 people were hospitalized with the virus as of Friday.

The health order allowing hair salons, barber shops and dine-in facilities to reopen was not yet finalized as of 6:45 p.m. Friday, but officials said it would be signed by the end of the day.

The order will list restrictions on those businesses, including reduced capacity and requiring personal protective equipment for employees, City Health Officer Dr. Anissa Davis said Friday afternoon.

It will also bar, for the time being, salons from offering any services other than hair care; nail work, massages and other services will still be prohibited. Salons and barber shops will also be prohibited from offering magazines, coffee and other amenities. Customers, meanwhile, will not be allowed to gather in waiting areas. Everyone inside a salon or barber shop will have to wear a face covering.

Both indoor and outdoor capacity in restaurants will be limited to 60%. Customers will be asked to wait for their table in their cars or outside the restaurant, and they will be required to wear a face covering when they’re not eating. Servers will be required to wear a face covering and a face shield.

The ability for those businesses to reopen came two days after retail stores and houses of worship were allowed to welcome folks indoors for the first time since stay-at-home orders were issued in March.

Retail stores were allowed to open at 50% capacity, and places of worship were allowed to open at 25% capacity or to 100 people — whichever bar was lower.

Friday’s news also coincided with the launch of the city’s open streets initiative. Garcia said Friday that the first parklets to allow restaurants to expand outdoors are already in place. One is adjacent to EJ Malloy’s in Bixby Knolls, one is in Belmont Shore by George’s Greek Cafe, and one is downtown by Pie Bar and Romeo Chocolates.

Work is also set to begin on reconfiguring The Promenade for the restaurants that line the car-free corridor.

“This will give the ability for restaurants to be able to survive, so capacity is larger,” Garcia said. “And these, of course, are just the first batch.”

More parklets and street closures — including on some residential streets — will come in the near future, he said.

Long Beach has moved ahead with the reopening process because the state considers certain indicators in LA County, like hospital capacity, positive testing rate and supply of personal protective equipment, to be sufficient evidence that local agencies are managing the virus’s spread well — and can respond to a surge in COVID-19 cases if one occurs.

But as more people get out and about, local officials have said, there is still significant risk of a more serious outbreak.

Garcia said during Friday’s briefing that it’s more important than ever for folks to follow the precautions that have been recommended throughout the pandemic: handwashing, wearing face coverings and maintaining 6 feet of distance from others.

It’s still possible, he said, that a surge in cases could force Long Beach to move backwards and close some of the businesses that are now reopening. It’s up to the residents, he said, to be responsible and allow Long Beach to continue moving forward.

“It is our decision as a community whether we continue forward,” he said. “I’m pleading with everyone to do the right thing.”

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