LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Los Angeles County has approved a plan to reopen indoor nail salons and indoor shopping malls, officials announced Wednesday.
The staggered reopening over the next 10 days will limit occupancy to 25% for both types of facilities, according to public health director Barbara Ferrer.
Employees at Mediterranean Delight Restaurant in Downey Mall said they can’t wait to once again serve up their famous chicken and steak kabobs.
The grill inside the mall has been closed due to coronavirus restrictions, but following Ferrer’s announcement, they’ll be welcoming guests soon, along with other businesses at indoor malls that have been struggling financially during the pandemic.
“I’m borrowing money from my parents to be able to pay bills and whatnot,” said restaurant owner Vince Galstain. “Every month, just to have refrigerators running, we’re paying about $470 to the electric company.”
While mall food courts will remain closed, restaurants like Galstain’s will be able to serve to-go meals to customers.
“They’re gonna take away the tables inside the mall and people aren’t gonna be able to come sit inside. It’s gonna be grab food and go,” he said. “It’ll make some people upset but as long as they have those doors open we will be happy.”
Nail salon owners and customers, who are also benefitting from these updated reopening guidelines, are also celebrating at the news.
Despite the green light for reopenings, Ferrer is still encouraging business not to get too lax about taking precautions against the spread of coronavirus, and patrons are still encouraged to wear face coverings and practice physical distancing.
“Nail salons will be encouraged to continue to offer services outdoors where the air circulation is better and there’s lower risk of disease transmission,” Ferrer said.
Many locals say they’re encouraged by the progress the county is making, but others remain hesitant about braving the crowds.
“It’s gonna be weird being around so many people inside,” said customer Alisa Zhyla. “It’s just different .”
In addition to malls and nail salons, outdoor playgrounds may also reopen at the discretion of individual cities, Ferrer said. Anyone over age 2 will be required to wear a face covering at the playgrounds, and no eating or drinking will be permitted.
While the county still appears to have avoided a post-Labor Day surge in cases, daily case numbers have ticked upward in the past few days compared to earlier in the month, with another 1,063 coronavirus cases reported Wednesday, according to Ferrer.
Officials said there were also another 30 coronavirus-related deaths, bringing the countywide total to 6,576.
Noting the average daily number of deaths has decreased to the lowest since early April at the beginning of the pandemic, Ferrer said the county is seeing 743 hospitalizations per day – a six-month low.
“This certainly is a reflection of decreasing number of cases and hospitalizations, but it also, uh, and we should acknowledge this reflects both improvements in the treatment of COVID-19 patients,” she said.