LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The California Department of Public Health Monday announced the statewide reopening of in-store retail shopping, a major step in the state’s loosening of shutdown orders issued in March to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The reopening of stores is subject to approval by individual county health departments, and Supervisor Janice Hahn’s office indicated Monday night that Los Angeles County might lift its current restrictions Tuesday, allowing modified in-person shopping at all retail locations

The news is a welcome sign of hope for a number of small business owners struggling to stay afloat after being denied federal loans.

“It has been catastrophic,” Sami Bennett, owner of Wood N Hanger, said. “Digging into savings every single week and keeping our fingers crossed that we can open up.”

Bennett said she has started sanitizing all surfaces in her shop that customers could potentially touch, but there are bigger challenges ahead.

“It’s a whole beast of a game of how to get back to normal when you’re so far behind,” Renee Kennedy, owner of Earthbaby Boutique, said. “We’re behind almost three months of sales, then we have all of the bills that we have to get caught up on, then with the current bills on top of that, and I haven’t been able to get inventory because my vendors and warehouses are closed.”

But the owners said they were ready to get back to business, and Hahn seemed to agree.

“Thank you, Governor Newsom. As we continue to battle this virus, this policy will make all the difference to the small businesses in our communities that are struggling to survive this crisis,” Hahn tweeted Monday.

Personal services, such as hair and nail salons and barber shops, are not included in the state’s definition of retail.

The guidance for in-person shopping already in place for certain counties now applies statewide, though stores will still have to observe multiple health precautions including social distancing requirements and the final determination lies with county officials.

Monday’s announcement came as Gov. Gavin Newsom released guidelines for resuming in-person services at churches and other houses of worship.


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