State officials are no longer prohibiting hair salons and barbershops from operating indoors in Long Beach and Los Angeles County as a whole — but that doesn’t mean those indoor spaces can start reopening.
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a new framework on Friday, Aug. 28, for tracking counties’ progress on managing the coronavirus. The state has done away with its monitoring list and instead has assigned counties different colors — ranging from purple, representing widespread transmission, to yellow, representing minimal transmission — based on their positive testing rate and their case rate per 100,000 people.
Los Angeles County, including Long Beach, is in the purple category.
But the switch included one significant change for business reopenings: Indoor hair salons and barber shops are allowed to operate for every color grouping.
Mayor Robert Garcia, in a Friday afternoon briefing, acknowledged the news, but said city and county officials still must determine for themselves whether allowing those businesses to resume indoor operations would be safe.
“There is only one type of business that the county of Los Angeles can contemplate to reopen as part of our city, and that is salons and barber shops,” Garcia said. “I say ‘contemplate’ because that doesn’t mean we are going to reopen salons and barber shops indoors at a limited capacity.
“That’s a decision the health teams and doctors at LA County Health and Long Beach Health,” he added, “will decide and discuss over the next few days.”
Garcia said officials from all three health departments in the county — LA County, Long Beach and Pasadena — will jointly decide how to move forward.
He said he expects a decision to be made early next week.
“I also don’t want to get folks’ hopes up that somehow (salons and barber shops) are going to open Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday in Long Beach,” Garcia said. “We just don’t know. And that decision is not a decision I make.”
Friday’s briefing came as the city announced three more coronavirus-related deaths, bringing the death toll to 212.
Long Beach also identified 79 new coronavirus cases. There have been 10,437 cases confirmed in the city since the pandemic began.
But about 9,387 people — or 90% of those who have tested positive — have since recovered.
There were 69 Long Beach residents in hospitals with the virus on Friday.
Long Beach has not met the two indicators the state considers as part of its new color-coded monitoring system, though it briefly met the positive testing rate requirement last week — when the old watch list system was in place.
The state’s positive testing rate threshold to move to the red category is 8% or below.
Long Beach’s rate, as of Friday, was 8.8%.
Los Angeles County, however, has met that requirement for the time being — with a 5.6% positive testing rate.
But the county has not yet met the new standard of having seven or fewer new daily cases per 100,000 people; LA County had 13.1 new daily cases per 100,000 people, according to the state’s dashboard.
Long Beach’s dashboard does not show its new daily case rate and officials did not mention it at the briefing.
But because the state tracks progress at a county level instead of a city level, Long Beach would be able to move ahead whenever Los Angeles County meets the requirements.
It will be weeks before that happens, though. LA County doesn’t only need to meet both of the required metrics — it also needs to maintain them for at least three weeks to be able to move to the red group, which the state still categorizes as “substantial” transmission.