Officials announced Wednesday that Los Angeles County is updating its health order to allow hair salons and barbershops to reopen indoor operations, with capacity limited to 25%.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Hair salons and barbershops will be allowed to reopen for limited indoor service in Los Angeles County, with officials announcing Wednesday that the county will bring those businesses in line with recently amended state coronavirus reopening guidelines.
While the state releases overall guidance, individual counties can maintain tougher restrictions, and Los Angeles County had not yet revised its local health order as of Wednesday morning to allow any additional businesses to reopen. An announcement about possible adjustments had been expected Tuesday, following a discussion between the Board of Supervisors and county health officials, but none was made.
Late Wednesday morning, however, Supervisor Janice Hahn announced that the county's health order will be revised, as early as Wednesday afternoon, to allow hair salons and barbershops to resume indoor service, with capacity limited to 25%.
Officials said the county would review possible increases in capacity three weeks after Labor Day.
At a COVID-19 briefing, Los Angeles County Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis confirmed what Hahn said, adding that salons and barbershops can resume indoor service with limited capacity as soon as Wednesday, if they're in compliance with all of the Health Officer Orders.
Hahn told KNX Newsradio, however, that the county is still not authorizing the reopening of indoor shopping malls. The state's revised guidelines released Friday authorized indoor shopping malls to reopen at 25% capacity, but again, it is up to individual counties to approve the reopenings.
L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti is still urging caution, despite the reopenings.
"Do not confuse, though, these few reopenings with going back to normal, that's not the case," he said. "Last time there were some reopenings, I think some folks drew the wrong message that the virus was behind us, that we could let down our guard, go back to normal. That's false, it's foolish, and as we learned it can be fatal."
The announcement comes is especially good news for businesses and customers as a a heat wave is set to descended on Southern California over the Labor Day weekend.
"When we were working outside, it was probably the hottest time of the year that we've had so far," said David Hovesepian of Fades and Blades Barber Shop. "Working in 100-degree weather as we tried pretty much doing everything. Putting mists out, trying to ensure we keep everyone as cool as possible during the heat."
Malls in some other counties, including Orange County, began reopening Monday, when the state's new guidelines took effect.
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Los Angeles County health officials were expected to discuss the changes at an afternoon news briefing.
Health officials are also likely to again urge residents to avoid large gatherings over the upcoming Labor Day holiday. The Department of Public Health has been trying to promote that message for several days, particularly with hot weather expected over the long holiday weekend.
The Fourth of July and Memorial Day holiday weekends both resulted in dramatic spikes in coronavirus cases in the county.
In a statement Tuesday, the county Department of Public Health warned again that "it is important not to gather with people who aren't part of your household as it puts you at risk for COVID-19.''
The county released a list of activities that are banned by the Health Officer Orders, "even if they feel safe.'' Those activities include baby showers, gender-reveal parties, backyard barbecues for Labor Day, student study groups, Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur dinners and gathering at the beach with friends over the hot weekend.''
There has been no indication that the county might opt to close beaches to prevent large gatherings.
Health officials fear that the holiday weekend could reverse a downward trend in coronavirus deaths, new cases and hospitalizations.
On Tuesday, the county reported another 45 deaths due to the virus, while Long Beach reported one additional fatality. The new deaths raised the overall total since the start of the pandemic to 5,830.
The county also announced another 840 new coronavirus cases -- a rare dip below the 1,000 mark -- while Long Beach reported 150 and Pasadena added 11. The total number of cases since the pandemic began stood at 242,781 as of Tuesday. Long Beach and Pasadena both have their own health departments separate from the county.
According to the county, the seven-day average daily number of new cases has dropped to 1,300, continuing a steady decline. Health officials have been reporting downward trends in new cases, deaths and hospitalizations -- with 1,057 people hospitalized with the virus as of Tuesday.
Los Angeles County is also gearing up for the coming flu season, with public health director Barbara Ferrer saying residents should get vaccinated, especially given the continuing threat of COVID-19.
"We are positive that we will have both influenza and COVID-19 circulating at the same time,'' she told the Board of Supervisors Tuesday. "While we don't have a vaccination for COVID-19 at this time, we do have a vaccination for influenza.''
Immunization is recommended for everyone over the age of 6 months. Vaccines are already available at some doctors' offices, clinics and pharmacies, and Ferrer said the county should have its own stocks available next week.
If enough residents get vaccinated, it will help decrease the stress on the county's health care system as it works to support patients fighting either COVID-19 or influenza, which have similar symptoms, Ferrer told the board.
City News Service contributed to this report.