LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Los Angeles County has given permission to barbershops and hair salons to reopen indoor operations.

Barbers from King’s Cutz give haircuts beneath an awning outside their barbershop while observing safety restrictions on Aug. 26, 2020 in Los Angeles. (Getty Images)

L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn announced Wednesday that the county was updating its health order to allow barbershops and hair salons to reopen indoor operations with 25% capacity.

Over the next three weeks, the county will evaluate whether it can increase capacity, Hahn said.

This comes after California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Aug. 28 gave permission for all counties statewide to reopen hair salons, barbershops and indoor malls. However, over the past several days L.A. County officials said they were continuing to review the guidelines and would not make any decisions on easing restrictions, which prompted frustration from local business owners.

California’s new four-tiered coronavirus assessment system, unveiled last week, determines the process by which each county can reopen businesses and schools.

The color-coded system ranges from yellow (minimal), orange (moderate), red (substantial) and purple (widespread).

All of Southern California was placed under the purple designation except for San Diego, which was assigned red.

Los Angeles County isn’t slated to be downgraded from purple to red any time soon. To be downgraded from the purple tier, a county must have less than 7 new daily coronavirus cases per 100,000 population, and have a positivity rate of less than 8%. It must maintain those levels for 14 straight days.

Currently, L.A. County has 13.1 cases per 100,000, nearly double the threshold, and a positivity rate of 5%.

Also announced on Wednesday, Los Angeles County school districts can reopen in-person classes for students with special needs, along with English language-learners.

“So many students can’t simply access the support and instruction they need via distance learning even with everybody’s best efforts,” said Lisa Mosko, Director of Special Education Advocacy with the group Speak Up.

Moskow, who also serves on LAUSD’s Community Advisory Committee, said a survey by Speak Up found 50 percent of parents with special needs kids were not getting critical services.

“For example, speech therapists were sending worksheets via email to parents instead of doing speech therapy via zoom,” Mosko said.

Parents of children with special needs have also echoed similar concerns while understanding the limitations of shutdowns prompted by the coronavirus.

Carla Suarez Capdet said some three years of progress with her kindergarten son who has Autism Spectrum Disorder appears to have been undone in a matter of weeks due to the absence of the typical therapy and lessons.

Capdet and other parents in comparable situations say they’re glad the district can now give specialized care to students.

“Special needs kids the virtual learning is just so challenging,” she said. “So much of the work that the specialists do is hands-on, in-person, face-to-face connection. It’s so critical for them.”

L.A. County reported Wednesday another 51 deaths due to the coronavirus, and 1,457 new cases.

The new numbers bring the county’s totals to 5,878 deaths and 243,935 cases since the pandemic began.

Solis also emphasized that ahead of Labor Day Weekend, it’s important to protect workers who are keeping “society running” safe.

“This weekend, let’s keep them at the top of our minds and avoid crowds, continue to wear our masks and only gather with people in our household because these actions not only keep you safe, but they also keep our workers safe,” she said. “That’s how we can celebrate and honor our workers this Labor Day by continuing to flatten the curve and keep everyone safe.”

Schools, barbershops and salons still have to implement safety guidelines to help prevent the spread of coronavirus as best they can. As for the county school district, it is unclear when they will start welcoming special education students again.
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